clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Capital Ups and Downs, Week 8: No-ffense

New, comments

The latest edition of our weekly look at individual Washington Capitals ups and downs.

NHL: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Your weekly look at individual Washington Capitals' ups and downs*:

Forwards Trend Notes
Nicklas Backstrom UP Scored the lone Caps' goal last week, which means he actually *gasp* shot the puck... something he's done 51 times already this season, his highest shots-per-game rate in three seasons. Perhaps that's why he's on pace to have his best goal-scoring season since his concussion-shortened 2011-12 campaign, and why he's currently leading the team in scoring overall.
Jay Beagle EVEN A fairly quiet week for Beagle, who won the majority of his faceoffs, wasn't on for any goals against (including close to five minutes of perfect penalty killing) and generated exactly one shot on goal.
Andre Burakovsky DOWN Equally quiet week for Burakovsky, but the difference for the Caps' youngest Swede is that he's sort of relied upon to generate offense - and he's not really doing that at the moment. 22 games (and counting) without a goal for Andre.
Paul Carey EVEN Got the call before the Islanders game, got a jersey for the Lightning game, and acquitted himself fairly well in his limited action. That said, the only scoring chance generated on his watch at even strength was one for the Lightning; not ideal, but not overly devastating either.
Brett Connolly EVEN No one had a higher CF/60 rate at even strength last week than Connolly, who finished the two-game stretch with a solid 64.86% CF. That said, he was also on the ice for two of the three Islanders' goals on Thursday night.
Lars Eller EVEN No points for Eller in the two games, and like Connolly he had a front-row seat to two of New York's goals on Thursday. On the flip side, he did lead all forwards with an even-strength CF% of 66.67% and had his fourth-straight game with no penalties - just the second time this season he's gone that long between minors. Mazel tov!
Marcus Johansson UP One of three Caps to register a point last week (yup, not a typo), picking up a secondary assist on Backstrom's tally in Tampa. Johansson continues to produce at a high and consistent level, and is on pace to obliterate his previous career highs in all offensive categories.
Evgeny Kuznetsov DOWN In a week in which the Caps dominated their two opponents possession-wise, and every forward finished with an even-strength CF% above 50%, Kuznetsov ended the two games at... exactly 50%, third-lowest on the team. Worse, he was once again held off the scoresheet. Remember that "breakout" game against St. Louis a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, us either.
T.J. Oshie + The team clearly misses him, but perhaps never more than when the shootout got underway against the Bolts. A conspicuous absence to say the least.
Alex Ovechkin DOWN Four minor penalties plus zero points equals one big fat down arrow for the captain, who is struggling mightily these days.
Zach Sanford HBH You can't say that the team hasn't given him opportunities to succeed, but the fact is that he probably just needs a bit more time to develop - and regain his confidence - in the AHL. He'll be back.
Jakub Vrana EVEN Last week wasn't the most uplifting week of the season for the Caps, but a bright spot was Vrana's NHL debut, which he kicked off with a golden scoring opportunity in one of his first shifts. All told he finished his first NHL game with four shots on net, although he added just one in the next game. Perhaps not the explosive start of some rookies, but a very solid and promising opening to his career.
Justin Williams EVEN He almost scored at the end of the first period against New York (and then again several more times before the game was over) but alas... the goals continue to elude him. It's certainly not for lack of trying, though, and you get the sense that he just needs a couple of dirty, net-front, bouncing-off-the-buttocks goals to open the floodgates. Hopefully.
Tom Wilson EVEN Only Beagle finished with more ice time on the penalty kill than Wilson, who skated a little over three minutes shorthanded and generated a shot of his own (and was credited with two takeaways, the only Cap to do so).
Daniel Winnik EVEN Logged 2:01 of perfect shorthanded ice time in his lone action against the Isles, a total which trailed only Beagle (by 16 seconds) among all forwards.
Defensemen Trend Notes
Matt Niskanen EVEN Averaged just over 25 minutes of ice time over the two games, which led all Caps and included a team-leading 5:27 of shorthanded TOI (and another 10:23 on the power play, just four seconds behind Carlson). No points, but on for just one goal against (on the power play) and saw 21 more shot attempts go towards the opponents' nets over the two games. Solid, if unspectacular.
Karl Alzner EVEN Like Niskanen, Alzner was dinged for just one goal against over the two games. Unlike Niskanen, he somehow was much more even when it comes to possession - in fact, he posted one of the team's lowest CF% at even strength. Only one player was lower, and that was...
John Carlson DOWN ...this guy. He was also on the ice for two of the four goals scored on the Caps, all at even strength, so not the strongest of weeks defensively. On the other hand, he actually had six shots on goal - six, all of which actually hit the net - against the Lightning and picked up the primary assist on the team's only offense.
Dmitry Orlov EVEN Ditto for Carlson's sidekick on the goals against, although he did fare slightly better when it came to shot attempts going in the right direction.
Brooks Orpik EVEN Orpik - yes, Brooks Orpik - is currently averaging exactly one shot on goal per game, which over the course of a whole season would be a career-high pace, and it's not close. What does that mean? Not much. Just funny to note, especially given the current inability of Caps' blueliners to hit the net on a regular basis.
Nate Schmidt EVEN If you predicted that Schmidt would finish last week as the team leader in even-strength CF% (for those two games)... go to Vegas. Dude's doing a great job of doing exactly what his job entails: keeping the puck at the other end of the ice. All told, just nine shot attempts headed in Holtby's direction at even strength when 88 was patrolling the beat.
Taylor Chorney EVEN Two games, two more healthy scratches. Can't be easy, but thus far he's been nothing but professional and that's really all we can ask.
Goalies Trend Notes
Braden Holtby EVEN Posted a stalwart .941 save percentage at even strength in the two games last week, and pretty well stood on his head in the shootout loss to Tampa. That said, he got a little leaky in the third period against the Islanders... and a Brian Boyle shootout goal? Really?
Philipp Grubauer EVEN Cooled his heels for the week, but expect him to get some action sooner rather than later if Barry Trotz's pattern holds.
Situational Trend Notes
Even Strength EVEN From a possession/shot-generating/chance-creating standpoint, the Caps were downright dominant in their two games, winning the Corsi battle by a lopsided margin of 96 to 67 last week. Of course, the goal total might have been a bit higher had more of them hit the net - as it was, only 51 of those 96 shot attempts did so (and none of them found the back of it).
Power Play DOWN The good news? The Caps' only offense of the week was generated on the power play. The bad? That accounted for a grand total of one goal, on 12 opportunities. Might be time to worry.
Penalty Kill EVEN The discipline overall was much improved, with just five minors in the two games (albeit four of those by one player), but the team did give up one power-play goal to the Lightning, which accounted for the only Tampa offense in regulation.
Stats from stats.hockeyanalysis.com, hockeystats.ca, NHL.com, Hockey-Reference, and corsica.hockey.

*Note: Covers games through 12/4/16