The Washington Capitals came into 2010-11 as the defending Presidents Trophy winners, and they were projected by Hockey Prospectus VUKOTA system to again be the leagues top team. Yet, as of Dec. 13, the Caps had fallen a bit short of the markwhile second in Shot Differential per game among Eastern Conference teams, Washington is only fifth in Points Percentage, fourth in Wins and seventh in Goal Differential per game.
Washington may have seemed to have lost something off its fastballwhile still good, they Caps are not running away with the Eastern Conference title. Looking deeper, the stars have faltered as well; Alex Ovechkin isnt scoring at his usual pace and Mike Greens point totals are down as well. So are the Capitals woes for real, or could we expect a bounce back to the form we predicted from Washington? Relax, Capitals fans. Youre going to like the answer.
Six games may seem like quite a lengthy slide, but its still a small sample size. And as we discussed earlier this season with the Torontos 4-0-1 start, teams tend to play to their true talent level over the full season (the Maple Leafs are 7-14-3 since). Teams will slip and surge throughout short stretches, but its the long-haul that shows their true colors.
Taking Hockey Prospectus VUKOTA projections and applying Pythagorean analysis, the odds of a conference favorite like the Capitals losing six games in a row at any random stretch is as low as 0.83 percent. This losing streak was even more unlikely given the fact that the Caps outshot their opponents 229-160 during that stretch; an average team that outshoots its opponents that badly would go winless over a six-game span 0.13 percent of the time. Although the Caps were outscored badly (23-8), you can look to the fact that they shot only 3.5 percent and had a .856 save percentage as the reasons those games fell into the loss column.