Saturday, July 12, 2008

Washington Capitals - Shots on Goal

Last off-season we looked into the statistic of shots on goal and its use as an indicator of success for the Capitals. My belief was that if the Capitals applied more pressure on the opposition and forced them to match Washington’s forwards then it would relieve the pressure on the young defense and overworked goalies.

The 2006-2006 season saw the Caps out shot by 450 shots on goal. In the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, the Caps used a puck possession, defensive, match up system. The first 21 games saw the Caps close the gap from -5.5 shots on goal per game to -0.81 but the opposition outscored the Caps 62 to 47. The team’s record was an Eastern Conference worst 6-14-1. This prompted a replacement of the head coach. With a new coach came a new system. The team changed to an attacking, aggressive forechecking system that pressured opposing defenses. It took a while for the system to be put into place but the results were remarkable. In the final 21 games, the Caps had 5.8 more shots on goal per game and outscored their opponents 67 to 22. The team’s record was 15-5-1 over that stretch. For their effort, the Capitals won the Division crown, made the playoffs for the first time in five years and Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was recognized with the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year.

Looking to next season, the Capitals are bringing back essentially the same team they finished with last season. The team will have a new #1 goaltender and will get back their top offensive, free agent pickup from last season. The team has really embraced the style that Boudreau has brought to the Caps and from a fans standpoint it’s an exciting product to watch. As you follow the action this season be sure to check the shot counter and know if the Caps are ahead there then they are on their game. And if they are on their game there will be goals aplenty. It’s going to be a fun season to be a Caps fan.

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