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Dylan Strome’s Offence Keeping the Washington Capitals Afloat

NHL Predictions

Dylan Strome‘s offence is currently carrying the Washington Capitals. He had scored in three consecutive games–coinciding with the team’s three-game winning streak to end October. He is the only Washington player with more than two goals; his six goals lead the team. Half of Strome’s goals have been game-tying goals. The Capitals have allowed the first goal in seven of eight games. Without Strome, the Capitals would be in a much worse situation. 

Dylan Strome’s Offensive Impact

Strome has provided 31.57% of the Capitals total goals scored this season. He has scored two goals in a game twice. No other Capitals player has scored multiple goals in a game yet. Strome’s game-tying goal against the Calgary Flames in the Capitals second game forced overtime for an eventual shootout loss, which earned the team its first standings point.

His performances since the first game of the season have been among the best on the team. Using Game Score, which uses data from Natural Stat Trick to evaluate a player’s individual impact on game outcome, he has been Washington’s best overall skater four times. He was the only Capital without a negative Game Score in the team’s season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. On October 21 in Montreal, he was the best skater of either team, with his 2.17 Game Score only beaten by Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen

Strome Deserved to Be Moved up in the Lineup

Strome started the season on the third line but quickly vaulted over both Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom to secure the top centre spot. Backstrom has only one point, an assist in Washington’s fifth goal in New Jersey on October 25. He announced on the morning of November 1 that he will take time away from hockey to focus on his health. Kuznetsov has one goal and four assists. Strome has a higher points-per-game and points-per-60 rate than Kuznetsov, even though Kuznetsov averages more ice time per game. 

Who Else Poses a Threat Offensively?

Strome’s line generates the most offensive opportunities for Washington. Among forwards with over 100 minutes of ice time, Strome, Alex Ovechkin, and Tom Wilson have the best on-ice expected-goals percentages at even strength. None of the members of the second line, Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, and Sonny Milano, have an expected goals percentage above 50. Strome leads the top nine forwards with 55.58 of expected goals for while on ice. These rates are sourced from Natural Stat Trick. 

Dylan Strome’s offence has been so effective mostly thanks to where he shoots from. All but one of Strome’s goals have come from the “high danger” area of the ice, within a stick’s length of the goal crease. As a team, Washington has only scored 12 high-danger goals. Strome has 13 individual high-danger scoring chances at even strength, per Natural Stat Trick. On the power play, he has had four more close opportunities. According to NHL EDGE, he has a high-danger shooting percentage of 45.5%, which is in the 89th percentile of all skaters. 

Is This Performance Sustainable Through 82 Games?

Strome’s offensive streak is unsustainable in the long run. His shooting percentage peaked at 35.5%–over three times the league average and double his personal-best accuracy in a full season. After two games without a goal, his shooting percentage has already dropped to 27.3%, still a 10-percent increase on his career-high. The Capitals must find ways to score without relying on Strome to maintain a near 60-goal pace.

Now that Backstrom will be out of the picture for the foreseeable future, Washington’s younger players will have more chances to prove their abilities on the third line. Connor McMichael, who was drafted as a centre but has primarily played on the wing this season, will likely take Backstrom’s third-line spot. McMichael has recorded some promising statistics, albeit with a small sample size. He is one of the other Capitals forwards who has generated over 50 percent of expected goals-for. 

Main photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


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