Capitals’ Third Defense Pair Is a Weak Link

Posted October 12, 2017

Aaron Ness (Caps Outsider)

The Caps defense, specifically the third pair, have been a weak link so far this season.

These defenseman are Taylor Chorney and Aaron Ness. I am leaving Christian Djoos off the list as he just made his debut. Ness is averaging 10:43 time on ice and Chorney is averaging 13:32 so far this season. To compare, Brooks Orpik  is averaging 22:02. All per 

Last night, it seemed like the coaching staff benched Ness and it seemed like the coaching staff broke up the pairing of Ness and Djoos.

Their advanced stats numbers are not very good either. Chroney has a five-on-five shot attempt percentage of 41.18 and Ness is at a horrendous 37.04, per


The above graphic shows that Ness is bringing almost everyone on the team down in five-on-five shot attempts. The only player he is helping his Alex Chiasson.

Chorney’s is not that great either. While his is not as noticeable, he is bringing down the trio of Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky and TJ Oshie quite significantly.

These numbers are horrific, but there is not an easy solution. It’s too early to simply trade for a solid defenseman to tighten things up back there, and the Caps are no longer in a “do whatever it takes to win” mindset since that would open more holes elsewhere.

In the past few seasons, the Caps have had a strong defensive corps with a lot of NHL experience. That is clearly not the case this year. The only way the defense to get better is by playing the younger guys. Djoos shined last night, but do not expect that every night. Even Barry Trotz said after the game that they’ll be patient with him.

The Caps have a great shutdown pair in Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen and have a solid second pair in John Carlson and Brooks Orpik. Like we saw a little bit last night, the Caps, in my opinion, should split up Orpik and Carlson. I would like to see Carlson with Ness and Orpik with Djoos. Perhaps Trotz will experiment with this, but only after he’s out of other options.