Optimize: Look at Capitals’ defense and optimize pairing – NHL Sports

Over the past few weeks, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette has been tinkering with defensive pairing by replacing Dmitry Orlov and Brenden Dillon with the top four roles. The caps rolled in about the same combination throughout the season, but to Ravioletto’s eyes things seemed out of date.

In this post, we’ll look at Capitals’ defensive performance in 5v5 play and building optimized pairings in the future.

Five on Five Point Production

Capitals’ John Carlson has scored 42 points in 45 games so far this year, leading the league with defensive points. That said, let’s take a look at the production of Carlson and the rest of the Caps Defense Corps in this season’s 5-5 play.

Overall, these statistics aren’t all that surprising. Two aggressively focused defenses, John Carlson and Justin Schultz, are leading the way overall. Orlov and Dillon are not far behind Schultz here.

Here’s how Capitals defenses can score points in the NHL in a 5v5 play. Carlson (1st), Schultz (15th), Dillon (21st), Orlov (27th), Jensen (46th), Chara (67th). Overall, there’s not much to complain about the overall point generation in 5v5 play.

5 to 5 actual and expected goals and opposite goals

Now let’s look at the difference between the actual goal of Caps’ defense and the expected goal during 5v5 play.

One thing to note here is that each of the cap defense goals per 60 is above xGF / 60. One reason for this is that the overall cap outperforms xGF production in 5v5 play (3.01 GF / 60 vs 2.06 xGF / 60 as a team). Part of that common overperformance is Caps League’s high 10.82 shot rate in 5v5 play.

On the contrary, all defenses except Justin Schultz are below expectations for GA / 60 compared to xGA / 60. Part of this is the fact that more successful teams in the league outperform xGF in actual GF because the expected goal model does not value low-risk goals very much.

Defensive goal over shift vs expected goal over shift

Let’s take a look at the normal defense performance of the cap in GAR and xGAR.

Dillon and Schultz are the only two players whose GAR values ​​exceed xGAR measurements. Interestingly, despite Dillon’s recent struggle, he was tied for a lead among the GAR Caps defenses at 7.10.

Orlov’s performance, on the other hand, has had a significant impact on Evolveing-Hockey’s xGAR model, leading the cap by that indicator. When looking at Orlov’s recent plays, it’s not that surprising.

Of greatest concern is Schultz’s 0.10xGAR. The quality of Schultz’s play is solid at 6.40 GAR, but it’s certainly interesting that the xGAR model doesn’t really appreciate Schultz’s play. Schultz’s xGAR breakdown is 0.5 for expected attacks, -1.2 for expected defenses, and 0.8 for penalties. In contrast, his GAR is 7.8 attacks, -2.2 defenses and 0.8 penalties. Overall, his defenses are worse than expected and his attacks are much better than expected.

Pairing optimization

Defensive pairing is almost consistent this year, but it can be a bit confusing in the middle of the game, such as after power play or a penalty kill. Now you can see some data about possible pairing optimizations.

There are some pairings that really stand out as prime defensive pairings for caps. Let’s emphasize them below:

Orlov and Jensen

The first is the possibility of pairing Orlov and Jensen with 57.06 CF%, 59.31 FF%, 76.92 GF% and 68.29 HD CF% on ice at 103: 52. They are on the ice with 10 and 3 goals while they are on the ice together in a 5v5 play. In addition, they achieved five high-risk goals and opposed only one. Orlov and Jensen’s playing styles are both fleet feet and defenses that move highly capable pucks, so they can complement each other.

Dillon and Carlson

This is a familiar pairing for the Capitals, as Dillon and Carlson have played 492: 22 on the ice together in 46 games so far this season. This pairing is more necessary, as is the fact that Carlson’s best defensive partner is currently paired with Nick Jensen in Orlov, and that Dillon’s best pairing is when paired with Carlson. Thing. In the 46 games so far this season, this pairing is 48.58 CF%, 48.51 FF%, 51.06 GF%, 46.71 HD CF%. They are on the ice together with 24 and 23 goals, and the high-risk goals are divided into 13 and even 13 goals.

Characters and Schultz

This is an interesting combination. They were on the ice together for 105:22 hours, but controlled ownership (52.15 CF% and 48.41 FF%) and were on the ice with 8 and 4 goals (66.67 GF%). ). While on the ice, they have a share of high risk potential, with 25 in favor and 21 opposition (54.35 HDCF%), only 5 high risk goals and 2 opposition (71.43 HDGF%). .. The character’s more defensive games and styles can help Schultz become more aggressive.


Overall, Capitals has received strong play and production from the defensive group this season. Six regular contributors, Carlson, Orlov, Schultz, Chara, Dillon, and Jensen, provided some stability to the backend, which was struggling to be consistent back last season.

Looking at some deeper levels of scrutiny and advanced statistics, there is definitely an opportunity to adjust defensive combinations to optimize results on ice. A pairing consisting of Dillon and Carlson, Orlov and Jensen, and Chara and Schultz may pay dividends on ice based on their previous performance.

By Justin Trudel

– NHL Sports

Optimize: Look at Capitals’ defense and optimize pairing Optimize: Look at Capitals’ defense and optimize pairing

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