STATISTICAL ANALYSIS | At any one time, there are dozens of storylines surrounding the Washington Capitals. Clearly, this year is no exception. But one of the more noteworthy subplots revolves around the struggles of their netminders, Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth.
The two have combined for a below-average .893 save percentage and a dismal 3.15 goals against average, and while it is common to say the defense isn't doing enough in front of them, that just isn't true.
A defense's job is to not only limit shots on net but to also limit quality shots on net, or scoring chances. So far, the defense has done that. And if we compare this team to last year's squad (which was known as a very good defensive team) we can see that this year's version is doing a better job at limiting both quality and quantity.
Looking at even strength when the score is tied (to limit score effects), we can see that there is a definite improvement over last year not only in Fenwick against per 60 minutes (FA/60), which is just a rate of shots directed at net (goals, shots high and wide, shots that are saved, shots that get tipped, etc.), but also the rate of scoring chances against (SCA/60) and the percentage of scoring chances against on shots that get through (Dangerous %). Save percentage during even strength (EV Sv%) shows how the goaltenders are handling those shots.
This season, the blueliners are doing a better job at not only keeping the volume of attempts down, but the percentage that come from the dangerous areas of the ice is lower as well. The goalies, on the other hand, are saving a below-average number of those shots.
Neither Vokoun nor Neuvirth has been a steady presence in net when Washington is on the penalty kill, either, as both are well below their historical average save percentages (SH Sv%) despite seeing fewer shots per game (SH SA/gm) when short handed.
|Neuvirth and Vokoun combined||SH SA/gm||SH Sv%|
|2005-06 to 2010-11||5.9||0.882|
For the time being, the best course of action is to have patience with both Vokoun and Neuvirth, as they are two exceptionally talented goalies. Besides, how much worse can it get?
Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg.
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