Prior to the season, we speculated that Peter Laviolette would bring some much-needed discipline to the club, with an emphasis on limiting penalties, and bringing some balance to the power play opportunity differential.
Here was the gist:
After all, the last two seasons under Reirden have seen the Caps finish with the 2nd and 5th most times shorthanded (with no team being shorthanded more times over that entire span). In the two seasons preceding those, Barry Trotz fared marginally better, being shorthanded the 5th most in 2016-2017, and the 9th most the following season.
There’s a clear theme here: the Capitals take too many penalties. They’ve been doing it for awhile, and under multiple coaching staffs.
Well, a mere six games into the season and the club seems determined to make that prediction a farce. They’re dead last in the League in rate of penalties drawn, and towards the middle of the pack in penalties taken. Not much of a recipe for reversing the opportunity plus/minus.
And sure enough, if we look at that metric we see the Caps off to one of the worst starts they’ve had in those last handful of unfavorable (as measured by power play opportunities vs. times shorthanded) years.
The Caps haven’t finished a season with a positive power play opportunity differential since 2012-2013 (when they drew a whopping 2 more penalties than they took), and so far the Caps, even under the supposedly-disciplined watch of a new bench boss, are doing very little to buck the trend.
Then again, maybe that should come as no surprise, seeing as in the last twenty-four years the Caps have had a positive penalty differential only twice, and that differential was greater than +2 only once!
A chart for the ages here...