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Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 01/14/2011

Statistical analysis: How to fix the Caps' power play in two easy steps

Remember when the Capitals' power play used to strike fear into the hearts of opposing teams? Yeah, that was awesome. Coach Bruce Boudreau is frustrated too, seeing his team score only four goals on 45 scoring chances during their last 43 power-play opportunities. One definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results, so now is the time to make some changes.

After looking at the forward combos for even strength, I turned my attention to the power play and realized there are only a few combinations in use, mostly centering around Alex Ovechkin and either one or both blueliners John Carlson and Mike Green.

I have written before that seeing almost two thirds of the Capitals' power-play time is too much for Ovechkin, and the numbers continue to validate my claim.

Power play PP TOI Scoring chances per 2 min of PP Goals scored per 2 min of PP
With Ovechkin 224.9 1.42 0.19
Without Ovechkin 80.3 4.46 0.62
Almost triple the scoring chances and goals scored when the Great 8 is not on the ice during the power play. Again, I am not saying Boudreau should take Ovechkin off the power play completely, but maybe it is time the Caps had a legitimate second unit to take shifts during the man advantage. Green has seen almost twice as much power play time than Carlson has, but it may be time to let Carlson take over a majority of power-play duties -- at least until the scoring gets back on track.
Games TOI Scoring chances per 2 min of PP Goals scored per 2 min of PP
Green 34 153.4 0.83 0.22
Carlson 28 42.5 1.32 0.52
Green & Carlson 11 28.7 0.66 0.29
When the young defenseman mans the point alone, the Caps see almost twice as many scoring chances than when Green is with him and more than 50 percent more than when Green is alone. Washington also sees more goals scored per two minutes of power-play time when Carlson is the lone blueliner. So there are two quick fixes. Will it bring the power play back up to last year's levels? Maybe, maybe not -- but how much worse can it get by trying? Neil Greenberg also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks. You can follow him on Twitter.

By Neil Greenberg  |  10:17 AM ET, 01/14/2011

Categories:  Statistical analysis

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