9-game win streak. How much of it is luck?

As I’ve been saying in my recaps, the Capitals have been winning a lot of one goal games during this streak. In fact, all but two of the games were won by one goal, two of them went to OT and one ended in a shootout. Some of the NHL pundits are saying that the Caps winning all of these close games is a good thing because “we’re grinding it out” and “preserving leads,” which I can understand with Boudreau’s new system but we blew leads against Chicago and Florida in the last five minutes and were pretty damn close to blowing one against Carolina on Friday so I don’t full buy that theory yet. A lot of statisticians attribute one-goal victories to luck, is this the case with the Capitals? Let’s look into it.

Aside from the Edmonton, Montreal and Chicago games, the Caps scored 3 or less goals in all of these victories but they have only allowed 2 or more goals in one game, which was against Chicago. Also, the team’s save percentage has been .948 during this winning streak. Even if it’s a small sample size, you have to think that number will drop considering we were using our third string goalie for most of that time. I’m taking nothing away from Holtby because he’s been phenomenal, but his numbers could see a drop soon, especially if we keep playing him everyday. We’re also surrendering about 30 shots per game during this streak. Not a ridiculous amount but still kind of high. Oh, and we were without our best defenseman for this streak, our best center for 3 games, our #2 center for two games and Jay Beagle and Tyler Sloan saw ice time, which means that there were probably more people hurt.

Another thing to look at is special teams; the powerplay was 21.8% effective (mostly due to the 2/5 game against Montreal) but it wasn’t good for most of the time during this streak. The penalty kill, however, was 91.8% effective. We can partially thank the .948 save percentage for that.

These numbers suggest that we’ve received a fair amount of luck during this streak, but we are playing very well at even strength. We’ve also been controlling the games territorial-wise.

Team    Fenwick for   Fenwick Against    Corsi    Corsi Against
@NYI       59                              30                    50             41
NYI            44                             33                      59              47
STL            35                             32                     51               48
@FLA      33                              30                     44                 40
@TBL      36                              27                    58                  39
EDM         33                             26                       43               36
CAR        34                                48                        43              68
CHI          48                                32                      61               50
@MTL    43                                 29                     53                37

With the exception of the Carolina game, the Caps have been winning the Fenwick and Corsi battles, which is good news. It shows that we’re spending more time in the offensive zone and that we’re not relying on Holtby/Neuvirth TOO much to win games. Standouts for individual Fenwick and Corsi stats were Dennis Wideman who led all team defensemen in Fenwick and Corsi by a longshot. Karl Alzner and John Carlson’s ratings were also pretty high and so was Alex Semin’s.

To summarize things, yes we have gotten lucky but we’re also preventing a lot of teams from creating offense late in games, which is pretty important. It helps when we don’ t have to kill penalties late in games, too but that goes without saying. I expect this to regress in the oncoming games and tonight could be the start since here’s our lineup:

Ovechkin-Johansson-Knuble

Sturm-Laich-Semin

Chimera-Beagle-Hendricks

King-Gordon-Bradley

Alzner-Carlson

Schultz-Wideman

Hannan-Sloan

Neuvirth

Going up against this:

Franzen-Datsyuk-Holmstrom

Cleary-Zetterberg-Bertuzzi

Filppula-Modano-Abdelkader

Hudler-Helm-Draper

Lidstrom-Ericsson

Stuart-Kronwall

Kindl-Rafalski

Howard

Yeah, not exactly a lot of favorable matchups. Remember how the acquisitions at the trade deadline were supposed to keep Sloan out of the lineup? Well, three defensemen are hurt so in he goes. Oh, and how I assumed King was done? He’s back thanks to a few other injuries. At least Neuvirth is healthy again. Let’s hope we can get some good luck tonight because we may need it. Absurd production from the top 2 lines would help too.

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