Are changes coming for the Washington Capitals?
What’s Up With Wojtek Wolski?
Wojtek Wolski during pre-game warmups (Photo by Caps Outsider)
During Saturday’s 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, Caps forward Wojtek Wolski missed a wide open net that would’ve given him his first goal since Feb. 1. Wolski signed a one-year/$600,000 contract during the offseason in the hopes he can make up for some of the production that was lost when Alexander Semin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.
So far this season, Wolski has only four points to go along with his two goals and seems as though he’s this year’s Mike Knuble — he can’t catch a break and find the back of the net. But how unlucky is he?
There’s an advanced metric called PDO, which is simply a player’s on-ice shooting percentage plus his on-ice save percentage. This is used to show “puck luck” and if a player’s performance is sustainable or not. Since a team’s shooting percentage and the opposition’s save percentage will always add up to 100%, we can say that a player’s PDO will either regress or progress to an average of 1000. Let’s take a look at the Capitals and individual PDO, not including Jack Hillen since he hasn’t played since the first game of the year.
(Note: If you are wondering where the Capitals rank as far as team PDO, it’s currently at 977, which ranks 27th in the league. This is due to shaky goaltending)
So, this is in line with what we hypothesized. Wolski is in a string of bad luck and at a PDO of 923 both his on-ice shooting and save percentages will go up. This will in turn progress his PDO to 1000.
PDO isn’t an end-all stat. It wouldn’t be fair to our assessment if we left things as is. Let’s try to add some context to this and look at which zone he tends to start his shift in. A site called Hockey Analysis allows us to compare his zone starts over the last few seasons.
Notice how little Wolski starts his shift in the offensive zone. He’s actually ranked 18th on the team in this metric. To add further context, Wolski’s relative Corsi (the difference between the amount of pucks going towards the oppositions net and the amount of pucks going towards the Caps net) is a +3.8. The only other forwards who start their shift less than 50% of the time in the offensive zone and have a positive relative Corsi are Nick Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, and Joel Ward.
The final thing we can look at is the quality of the competition he’s facing, or QualComp. Looking at whether Wolski is going against top competition or weak competition will definitely play a role in what’s been happening with him. He’s ranked ninth in Corsi Rel QoC, which is the average relative Corsi of opposing players, weighted by ice time.
All this shows that he’s not playing sheltered minutes by any stretch of the imagination. For him to break out of his “slump,” the best thing to do is to continue driving possession. Eventually, his shooting percentage will go up and his PDO will progress to the mean.