Hockey nerds, unite!
It's time to review the most revealing statistics from the Washington Capitals' 2013 season.
But before we go any further, I'm curious about one thing:
When a hockey nerd pulls out his graphing calculator to compute statistics, does he wear a safety visor instead of a pocket protector?
Anyways, here are the five most telling statistics from the Washington Capitals' 2013 season.
Note: All statistics updated through April 24 courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.
In an 82-game season, there is a weak correlation between power-play success and qualifying for the postseason.
Case in point: During the 2011-12 season, only six of the top 10 power-play units made the playoffs. Conversely, the Capitals made the playoffs while finishing with the 19th-best power-play unit at 16.73 percent, below the league average.
The 2013 season, however, did not consist of an 82-game schedule. Due to the lockout, this year's NHL season was only 48 games long.
To obtain context, we must instead compare the 2013 season to the last time the NHL had a 48-game schedule: 1994-95. That season, nine of the top 10 power-play teams qualified for the postseason.
This season, the Washington Capitals did finish with one of the top-10 power-play units in the league. In fact, they finished with the best power-play percentage, with a success rate of 26.0 percent. That power-play success correlated to a berth in the postseason.
It is often preached in hockey circles that a team must outshoot its opponent in order to be successful.
The Washington Capitals attempted to prove that theory during the NHL season.
The Capitals are 10-3-0 when they outshoot their opponent, for an outshooting win percentage of .769. That is third best in the entire NHL, trailing only the Pittsburgh Penguins (.800) and Chicago Blackhawks (.781).
Things change dramatically when the tables are turned.
Washington is 16-15-2 when being outshot by the opposing team. That equals an outshot by win percentage of .485, good for 13th in the league.
All season long, the Capitals found a way to excel in the second period.
The Capitals scored 56 goals in the second period, more than any other period.
In fact, the Caps led the NHL in second-period goals for.
To further prove the Capitals' dominance in the middle frame: Washington is 8-9-2 when trailing after the first period, for a win percentage of .421. That mark is fourth best in the NHL.
How important is playing well in the second period? The top eight teams in terms of second-period goals for all qualified for the postseason.
It's a shame the Winnipeg Jets will be leaving the Southeast Division. Now the Washington Capitals must go back to having only one home arena.
During the 2013 NHL season, the Washington Capitals were scheduled to play three games against the Jets in Winnipeg. All three games were to be played in the month of March, and two of those three games were played on consecutive nights.
On paper, that was a formidable task indeed. Despite being in its second year as the Jets' home arena, the MTS Centre had already established a fearsome reputation as being a very difficult place to play.
Yet for all three games in March, the Capitals made MTS Centre look like Verizon Center North.
The Capitals won all three games in regulation. The combined score was 13-1, with Braden Holtby coming within a Mike Green deflection from tallying three shutouts against the Jets in their home city. (ESPN.com)
This remarkable performance by the Washington Capitals—deep in enemy territory and away from the safety of their own stronghold—completely changed the Southeast Division standings. And after watching the Caps clinch the division title at their expense on April 23, the Winnipeg Jets sat in ninth place in the Eastern Conference on Thursday with the final playoff spots up for grabs.
Now the Jets are left to ponder those three days in March when the Capitals burned their fortress to the ground—and with it their postseason aspirations.
At that juncture, it was not rosy for the Capitals. In fact, things were bad—as in, 4-8-1 bad.
On Valentine's Day the Capitals & Islanders were last and 2nd last in the NHL....Tuesday night they both clinched playoff spots. #NHL
— THE STATS GUY (@TH2NSTATSGUY) April 24, 2013
And now, the Capitals have claimed a playoff spot and the third seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Islanders have claimed a playoff spot and the seventh seed. Both Washington and New York have one game remaining before the postseason begins.
These two teams who authored "Hollywood" endings to their regular seasons could still play each other in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Perhaps it was scripted that way all along.