Is it time to break up the Capitals’ core?

November 22, 2013

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

Or, in Washington’s case: The more things stay the same, the more they stay the same.

Despite having three different coaches in the past four years, the core of the Capitals — Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Mike Green, Karl Alzner and John Carlson — have remained intact. Each of those players have been around at least five of the last seven years. However, as all Caps fans are aware, they have not been able to carry over regular season success into the playoffs.

Season

PTS

Playoffs

Coaches

2013-14

25

???

A. Oates (12-9-1)

2012-13

57

Lost in first round

A. Oates (27-18-3)

2011-12

92

Lost in second round

B. Boudreau (12-9-1) D. Hunter (30-23-7)

2010-11

107

Lost in second round

B. Boudreau (48-23-11)

2009-10

121

Lost in first round

B. Boudreau (54-15-13)

2008-09

108

Lost in second round

B. Boudreau (50-24-8)

Source: Hockey-reference.com

What should be especially troubling is how this team continues to decline in its even-strength performance. When the game is within reach or “close,” such as tied or within one goal in the first or second periods or tied in the third period, Washington has seen fewer and fewer shots in its favor. That means less time with the puck to generate scoring chances. For example, with Bruce Boudreau behind the bench in 2007-08, ignoring special teams and lead-protecting situations, the Capitals took 55.5 percent of shot attempts (Fenwick percentage). This season under Adam Oates it is 46.2 percent, fourth worst in the league behind Edmonton, Toronto and Buffalo, and the culmination of a downward trend that has been occurring for some time.

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So if the coaches have changed and the systems have changed and the peripheral players have changed but the results haven’t improved, what is left to tinker with?

 

greenberg
Neil Greenberg, when he isn’t watching the games, analyzes advanced statistics in the NHL and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @ngreenberg.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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