Are Carbery's Capitals Worse Than Laviolette's Last Team?

Here we are midway through the season...

Spencer Carbery, Washington Capitals
Spencer Carbery, Washington Capitals / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When you change head coaches you are obviously looking for some kind of improvement. What that can mean can vary from situation to situation. It can be a team struggling defensively and they want to see if another coach can help there. Maybe a coach just simply doesn't fit the teams identity and you need to make a change for that reason.

Whatever the reason the Washington Capitals moved on from Peter Laviolette I think we can all agree it was time. Laviolette had some regular season success with the Capitals, but playoff success never followed. Then the double whammy came in his final season last year. The playoff success did not come last season because the team missed the playoffs. I figured that one out quickly, it's hard to have playoff success if you don't make them.

It was not a good season, it was time for both parties to move on. The Capitals made the change and hired Spencer Carbery as the new head coach. With a new coach came some new hope. The hope was this new coach could get more out of the current team. Get more out of certain star players. Get more offense out of a team that had good players.

How has he done?

Well you simply cannot argue the bottom line. The Capitals currently have 50 points in 44 games played. That puts them on a 93 point pace. Last season the team under Laviolette finished with 80 points. If the team can continue that pace, obviously Carbery did a better job than Laviolette did in his final year.

There are also other things you cannot argue with when it comes to asking if Carbery is doing a fine job. The younger players are playing better under Carbery, specifically Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas, the latter just earning himself a nice 5 year contract extension. Anthony Mantha has also had a better year this year than his previous seasons under Laviolette.

Overall, the team just looks more competitive too. There were a lot of games last season where the Capitals were the worse team in games, it seemed like they knew it and games looked ugly. This season, even when Washington isn't the best team on the night they can still tend to keep things close and maybe even pull out a win.

But there are still plenty of things that Carbery has not done with this team. Last season the Capitals were not good offensively. There was hope he could turn that around this season. Not only has he not done that, it has actually gotten worse.

When talking about 5v5 scoring, 5v5 being the most important phase of the game, this season the Caps have scored 71 goals in 44 games, or 1.61 goals a game. Last season at 5v5 the Caps scored 173 goals which meant they scored 2.10 goals a game.

Even with the younger guys playing better, and with Anthony Mantha scoring some goals again they are actually scoring less in the most important part of the game.

There are at least two explanations for that. One is Alex Ovechkin and his decline this season. Last season he scored 42 total goals. This season he has 8 goals in 41 games, putting him on pace for about 15 goals at seasons end. Who would have thought that? Even if you would have told me Ovechkin was going to have an off year scoring goals I probably would have guessed he doubled that total.

Another excuse Carbery could use is that Evgeny Kuznetsov still doesn't seem to care at all. The guy that should be the Capitals number one center did not perform very well under Todd Reirden, the Caps hoped he would be better under Laviolette. He wasn't. They hoped he would be better under Carbery. It really hasn't been any different. Unfortunately, for Carbery, or any coach, it's going to be hard to be a good team or good offensive team when you have an $8 million anchor in your lineup.

It's not like Carbery's Capitals are unlucky either. This team under him are worse at generating chances than they were under Laviolette.

This season the Caps are averaging 20.52 scoring chances per game. Last season with Laviolette they were averaging 23.07 chances. As you can see, they are getting nearly 3 less chances a game. Last season Laviolette's Caps were averaging 9.6 high danger attempts a game, this season they are getting 8.3 a game. A 1.3 drop doesn't sound that big, but as you can see the numbers aren't that big to begin with so a nearly one and a half drop is a pretty big number.

The full numbers just are not as good this season as they were last season either. This season their CF% is 46.03%, their scoring chance for% is 47.13%, and their high danger attempt% is 46.77%. Last season those numbers were 49.78%, 49.70% and 49.68% respectively.

Defensively this team seems better. But according to the numbers they aren't really doing much better there either. This season they are allowing 23.02 chances a game with 9.54 high danger attempts against. Last season they allowed 23.35 chances against and 9.73 high danger attempts a game. Are they better by the numbers? Yes they are, but that was not nearly as good as I thought they were.

You can thank goaltending this season. Even that has been mostly up and down too though. It's been mostly up with Charlie Lindgren in net, him being 9-5-3, with two shutouts and sporting a 2.27 GAA and a save percentage of .926%. The down has been Darcy Kuemper, the guy the team signed to be "the guy", he is 11-10-2, and he has a GAA of 3.13 and a save percentage of .895%, he also has one shutout.

This season the Capitals save percentage is 6th best in the NHL at 90.62%. Last season they were only at 89.76%.

Overall this season has been a definite improvement. They mostly look better, they're getting wins, they are on pace for more points this season than last. But when you look at everything as a whole there really has not been that much improvement. Statisically speaking, not only has there not been improvement, there has been decline. The team has regressed and the numbers they regressed from were not good to start with.

I have been and always will be a "prove it" kind of guy. The Caps have put themselves in an okay spot a little more than halfway through the season. They are in the race. As I write this they are 5 points out of a division playoff spot, and just one point out of the playoffs via the wild card.

There is still a lot wrong with this team though. At best they are an average team. They are just a little lucky that most of the NHL has kind of proven to be average too. Maybe this average Capitals team can take advantage of other average teams and go on a run.

At the end of the day the Capitals hoped a coaching change would lead to improvement. The record has improved, and that is really all that matters. But in a lot of important stats there has not only been no improvement, there has been decline.

That could mean nothing, that could be the sign that when things get tighter this team might not be able to get into the playoffs. And not getting in the playoffs would be zero improvement from last season.

Is Carbery doing a better job than Laviolette? If so how much better is he doing? A lot better? Just a little? Are they the same? You be the judge.