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2015-16 Rink Wrap: Karl Alzner

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From Alzner to Winnik, we're taking a look at and grading the 2015-16 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2016-17. First up, Karl Alzner.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Japers' Rink Player Card (click for a hi-res version, and a glossary of terms used in this post can be found here; data via NHL.comwar-on-ice.comGeneral Fanager and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Alzner Card

Alzner's Season, Game-by-Game (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Alzner GxG

Alzner's HERO Chart (via Own The Puck):

Alzner HERO

Alzner and His Defensive Partners:

Alzner Linemates

Alzner's 5v5 Teammates and Competition (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Alzner QoT QoC

Alzner's 5v5 Usage:

Alzner usage

Alzner's With-or-Without You (via HockeyViz, explained here):

Alzner WOWY

Alzner's Rolling Shot-Attempt (Corsi) -For Percentage:

Alzner Rolling CF%

Alzner's Eight Seasons (via Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com):

Alzner HA

Key Stat: Played every game of the season for the sixth-straight campaign, extending his franchise-record iron man streak to 458 games and posting the sixth-longest such streak for an NHL defenseman since 1943-44.

Interesting Stat: Was (along with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt) one of four Caps blueliners with a goal in a 7-3 win over Colorado on November 21, marking the first time four different Capitals defensemen scored in the same game since December 4, 1992 (Al Iafrate, Sylvain Cote, Kevin Hatcher and Paul Cavallini).

The Good: Alzner set a (modest) career-high in assists in 2015-16 with 17, and tied the career bests he set a season ago in points (21) and plus-minus (+14), all while facing the toughest competition opponents had to offer and starting a lower percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone than anyone in the D-corps. His shot metrics hovered around 50%, thanks to a strong finish to the regular season, and look a bit better when score-adjusted - as you'd expect, Alzner saw a bit of an uptick in ice time when the team was protecting a lead (which, as you'll recall, was a pretty common occurrence this past season). Don't bother telling him, though - he doesn't care for your analytics.

Alzner was a critical component of a resurgent penalty kill, logging big minutes on the League's second-best unit and posting relatively good numbers along the way (including a large portion of the 207 shots he blocked, good for third-most in the League).

Then came the playoffs, where Alzner and partner Matt Niskanen were tasked with shutting down first Claude Giroux and then Sidney Crosby. The result? Nary a point from Giroux with Alzner on the ice, and a single secondary assist for Sid (it's worth noting, however, that while Alzner's Corsi-For percentage was over 57% at five-on-five when facing Giroux, against Crosby, that number dropped to around 40%).

The Bad: As noted above, Alzner's possession numbers weren't particularly impressive and, in fact, he was second-worst (Taylor Chorney) among the team's seven regular blueliners in most shot metrics, and dead last in relative Corsi-For percentage. But someone's gotta be near the bottom and if that bottom is at 50% from a guy playing the toughest minutes, things could be worse. Alzner is what he is at this point - steady, dependable and solidly unspectacular.

And while Alzner's durability has become his calling card, a groin injury that worsened to the point where he could only skate ten shifts in the game in which the Caps were eliminated before having to watch the rest unfold from the bench was an absolutely brutal way to end the season.

The GIF:

The Vote: Rate Alzner below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.

The Discussion: Can Karl Alzner play top-pair minutes on a Cup contender? With 20/20 hindsight, how good a pick was Alzner at 5th overall in the 2007 Draft? What would it take for you to give him a "10" next year?