Sometimes 46 shots is indicative of one team dominating another at the opponent’s end of the ice. And then there are games like last night. The Caps registered 46 shots on goal against the Atlanta Thrashers, managing a single goal among those 46 shots. It was not as dominating an effort as you might think, and here are a few reasons why…
Of the Caps’ 46 shots on goal last night, only 13 of them came from inside of 20 feet. Only two of those 13 shots from inside 20 feet came on the power play. With fewer Thrashers on the ice, one might have thought there would be more room to get shots from close-in scoring areas. Eric Fehr had four of those 13 total shots, Brooks Laich another three (two of them on the power play). The top line? One (Nicklas Backstrom).
On the other end, 22 shots were taken from outside of 30 feet. You might expect the defensemen to take the majority of such shots, but only eight came from the sticks of blueliners. Alex Ovechkin had five of his total of six shots in this distance category, two of them from more than 45 feet.
If you take 46 shots over a 60 minute game, you are averaging a shot every 1:18. It seemed the Caps were trying to flirt with that kind of frequency last night, meaning that they were not peppering goaltending Ondrej Pavelec with rapid-fire volleys that would require him to make saves in quick succession. Only twice all evening did the Caps record consecutive shots less than ten seconds apart without an intervening face off, one coming midway through the first period when Mike Green and Brooks Laich recorded shots at 9:55 and 9:57, the other on a power play in the second period when Alex Ovechkin and Jason Chimera recorded shots at 4:14 and 4:22.
It is worth noting that the Caps did not record a shot over a 5:36 period in the second period, their longest drought of the game. It was during that span that Atlanta scored their first two goals to put the Caps in a hole.
The Caps had 15 shots on goal on the power play, failing to convert on any of them. Small wonder why when one looks at the distances and frequency here. First, of the 15 power play shots, only two came from inside of 20 feet. The Caps were not crowding Pavelec’s crease well enough to get rebound shots.
Then there was the frequency. The Caps had five power plays, and here is how the shots fell out in terms of game time
PP2: 3:07/4:04/4:10 (after faceoff)/4:14 (after faceoff)/4:22
Lots of shots, but not much in terms of "pressure" -- making Pavelec make saves on shots in quick succession.
Who and Where:
It is one thing for defensemen to take shots from the outside; it is the nature of the position. But Mike Green (average shot distance: 38.8 feet) taking shots from closer in than Alex Ovechkin (45.0 feet)? Or Nicklas Backstrom (47.0 feet)? Neither Ovechkin nor Backstrom are generally thought of as the kind of offensive player who spends a lot of time trafficking in the close-in regions, but this seems to us more than a bit outside their comfort range for scoring. Even Brooks Laich (32.0 feet), Mike Knuble (31.0 feet), and Alexander Semin (29.0 feet) provided more evidence that the forwards were not doing much of their work on the inside, although Laich’s number is skewed by getting credit for a 91-foot shot.
This little look does not include misses or blocks, but what it seems to indicate to us is that the Caps were more or less suckered into taking long shots that Pavelec was given an opportunity to see because Caps who might have been in close were getting tied up by Thrasher defenders and were not getting rebound chances. Or, the Caps just didn’t make much of a game of it in close. Either way, sometimes 46 shots seems like 46 shots.
And sometimes, they seem like just so much cotton candy.