Capitals: How Is The New Carlson – Dillon Pair Playing?

It was clear before the NHL trade deadline that the Washington Capitals needed some help on defense.

Based on history alone it was nearly a forgone conclusion that the front office was going to go out and get that help on D. It’s become tradition that the Caps get a defenseman before the deadline. Mike Weber, Kevin Shattenkirk, Michal Kempny and Nick Jensen all acquired near the deadline in the last few seasons.

This season it was Brenden Dillon making his was to D.C. I think the common thought before the acquisition was the Capitals needed help on the bottom pairs. Dillon however has stepped right onto the team’s top D pair alongside John Carlson.

Carlson, while seemingly being the Norris Trophy front-runner thanks to his offensive output has been very up and down defensively. Getting a guy like Dillon, you would think, can only help him. But has it?

The stats are a little mixed, but some say it has helped. Carlson has played 1041:10 without Dillon this season. In that time the team has scored 57 goals for and has had 48 goals against when 74 is on the ice. Again, offense has never really been an issue when Carlson is on the ice.

His Corsi% without Dillon was a solid 51.19%, having 1,050 shots attempts for and 1,001 attempts against. 507 of those attempts were scoring chances and 478 of the attempts against were scoring chances against. That gives him a 51.47 scoring chance percentage.

He also had a 48.61 high danger attempts percentage. While on the ice the Capitals had 192 high danger chances for and 203 HD chances against.

Most of that 1000+ minutes was played with Michal Kempny. Together this season they have played 582:22. That was a pairing that worked in the past, but had not been working that well this season. Their Corsi% was 48.41%, their scoring chance percentage was 47.50%, their HD% was 50.90% and they scored 33 goals for and 25 against.

A lot of the stats improve when Carlson is paired with Dillon. So far, they have played 84:58 together in the six games Dillon has been on the Capitals. Their Corsi rating is 52.02% which is good and up. Their scoring chance percentage is 54.32%, well up from before. The high danger attempts are way up at 62.86%. This pair has had 22 high danger attempts compared to 13 against.

All of those numbers are up. Everything is going well for these two. Yet the goals are coming quicker against this “better” pairing than before they were teamed up. In the six games together the Caps have scored six goals and allowed five.

The Carlson-Dillon pair allows 3.53 goals against per 60 minutes. Carlson with Kempny allowed 2.58 goals against/60, and Carlson without Dillon for the season allows 2.77 goals per/60.

The most interesting thing here is everything says the new Capitals top D pair is better than everything before it.

The Carlson-Dillon pair allows 26.12 scoring chances per/60 and 9.18 high danger attempts per/60. Carlson this season without Dillon gives up 27.55 scoring chances per/60 and 11.7 high danger attempts per/60. Finally with Kempny they give up 29.16 scoring chances and 11.23 high danger attempts.

The only thing you can look at is save% while on the ice. The Carlson-Dillon pairing has an on ice save percentage of 90%. Carlson without Dillon is at 91.46% and Carlson-Kempny is at 92.40%. For whatever reason, even though scoring chances and high danger chances are down the save percentage is down as well.

This team is a lot better with Brenden Dillon on it, I don’t think I’ll be alone in saying that. He has helped Carlson in a lot of ways, has made plenty of plays on defense already and should be preventing more goals than they have.

On top of all that Capitals fans have seen what a great teammate he can be. He’s gotten into a half fight with Evgeni Malkin and stood up for his teammates in the game against the Wild on Sunday night. He’s a tremendous player and an even better dude.

Dillon was a great get at the deadline and hopefully it starts to show even more on the ice as we go on.