The Key Stat: 53.7%. Out of all of Washington’s regular centers this season, Nic Dowd was the only one with a faceoff win percentage above 50%. Coach Laviolette put a lot of trust in Dowd and the rest of the fourth line in defensive situations, and this is a big reason why.
The Good: Nic Dowd is one heck of a defensive forward, and he and the rest of the Caps’ fourth line came up huge in the d-zone this season. Per NatStatTrick, Dowd led the team in defensive-zone starts with 365 and had the lowest offensive-zone start percentage with just 20.5%. He was particularly effective in the slot, helping to clog things up and keep opponents’ net-front presence to a minimum. As stated above, Dowd was also clearly Laviolette’s most-trusted faceoff man this season. This extended to the playoffs as well, as he was often matched up against Aleksander Barkov at the dot. Dowd even had a few overtime starts, hitting the ice with the goal of winning the opening faceoff and then immediately heading to the bench.
In the midst of all of this defensive play, Dowd also managed to set a career-high in points with 24 and shots on goal with 90. Additionally, he was one goal shy of tying the career-high of 11 that he set last season.
The Bad: Dowd set a career-high in penalties this season with 21 in 64 games, which was fourth-most on the team. For someone who spends a decent amount of time on Washington’s penalty kill, this is not a good look. His increased lack of discipline would probably be more palatable if he drew penalties at a comparable rate to offset his own, but that is not the case; Dowd only drew 14 penalties. Let’s compare that to the Capitals’ two PIM leaders: Tom Wilson took 32 penalties but drew 33, and Garnet Hathaway took 27 penalties but drew 31. A top priority for Dowd for next season should be upping his in-game discipline, but he should also think about how to more effectively draw penalties too.
The Discussion: Could Dowd’s performance improve with a change in linemates next season? How can he keep his penalties to a minimum? Should he try and prioritize either taking fewer penalties or drawing more, or does he need to focus on both? And finally, what would it take for you to give Dowd a 10 next season?
The Vote: Rate Nic Dowd 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.
How do you rate Nic Dowd’s 2021-22 season?
This poll is closed