clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Noon Number: Penalty Kill or Be Killed

A look at the Caps’ struggles while down a man this year

Calgary Flames v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

.71 - Power-play goals given up per game this season by the Capitals, their highest rate since back in 2009-10 (.82). The Caps have given up 32 power-play goals through their first 45 games, tied with Ottawa for the fifth-most in the League, and are currently sporting a 79.1% penalty kill that is ranked 22nd in the NHL overall.

Since Barry Trotz - and more specifically, assistant coach and penalty-kill guru Lane Lambert - took over behind the bench, the penalty kill has become something of a point of pride. This year, however, they’ve been unable to maintain that success; should they maintain this pace across a full season, it would mark the first time in the Trotz/Lambert era that the team dipped below 81% effectiveness on the kill, and would also be their fourth-worst penalty-killing unit since 2005-06.

While they’ve struggled while shorthanded in general, it’s the road penalty kill that’s dragging them down, having ceded 18 goals on 81 times shorthanded (77.8%) away from DC compared to 14-for-72 (80.5%) at home.

The goalies, for their part, have tried to stem the tide - Braden Holtby’s shorthanded save percentage of .882 is actually above his career average, while Philipp Grubauer has seen his numbers dip slightly. The problem is that both are facing far more shots while shorthanded than usual; Holtby has already seen 170 shots on the PK compared to the 197 he saw all of last year, while Grubauer is up to 75 after just 111 last season.

The difference is striking... here’s last year:

And this year: