Agate Hathaway (quietly) leads the way in generating attack for the capitals


The Washington Capitals saw 10 different players score in the first three games of their inaugural round series with the Florida Panthers. TJ Oshie has a pair of goals and Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, John Carlson, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Garnet Hathaway all have one tally.

So who was generating the most attack out of these players?

One way to assess a player’s ability to generate scoring opportunities is through “expected goals”. Expected goals is a statistic used in many sports that weighs the characteristics of shot attempts with the probability of a goal being scored. In other words, stats relate a specific type of shooting attempt, location, and other characteristics to conversion rates based on historical data from that specific shooting location.

The following graph plots each of the individual goals projected by DC skiers for (ixG) 60 minutes of ice time. [Click to enlarge].


Statistically Tom Wilson tops the list of predicted singles goals per 60, simply because he had a goal in just 1:31 of icy time. makes sense. However, second on the list is Garnet Hathaway, which may come as a surprise to some. If you’ve followed Hathaway’s play and fourth streak over the past two seasons, it probably wouldn’t come as a surprise.

Other notable personalities include Lars Eller, Anthony Mantha, and Johan Larsson. Here’s why.

One way to start adding context (color) to the Expected Targets stat is to assess the total scoring chances a player might have. This starts with a percentage of zone shift starting in offensive zone.

The following chart plots the total percentages of starting shift in offensive zone for each of the capitals skaters for the first three games of the series. [Click to enlarge].

As you can see in the chart above, Garnet Hathaway posts pretty impressive numbers of projected targets while only starting 23.53% of his turnovers in the attack zone. That also makes sense, as he and the fourth line of defense are eyeing. But this magnifies how successful Hathaway has been in moving the play from the Capitals defense zone to the offensive zone when he’s one on the ice.

Johan Larsson, Lars Eller and Anthony Mantha also have to be commended, as less than 50% of their bouts start in the attacking area, but they make good and predictable numbers of goals.

The above players are not only considered for defense, but also for scoring, and they do just that. Kudos to Hathaway, Larson, Eller and Mantha.

By John Sorenson

About John Sorensen

John has been a fan of caps since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Center in 1974. His interest in caps has grown over the decades and has included time as a season ticket holder. He has worked as a journalist covering the team for over 10 years, focusing primarily on analysis, analytics, and forecast development.

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