The Seismic Shift In Web Penalties For The Washington Capitals Franchise

Photograph: Nick Wass / AP

The latest on-ice blunder by former NHL official Tim Peel gave the hockey world a little bit of a jolt. Peel was caught on a scorching mic overtly admitting he was seeking to even-up penalties in a recreation. The Peel gaffe left some questioning the integrity of the sport, however extra importantly, it ignited dialogue concerning the character and validity of penalties within the recreation of hockey. 

Whereas the occasion was controversial, it additionally prompted a couple of to start wanting somewhat nearer at penalties referred to as in latest video games, over the course of a season, or on this case, over the whole historical past of a franchise.

So what’s the Capitals’ historical past with penalties?


Web penalties, or the differential in penalties, merely takes the distinction in penalties drawn and penalties taken by a participant or group. A optimistic quantity means the group is drawing extra penalties than they’re being referred to as for.


Usually when an analyst needs to have a look at the Capitals franchise in its entirety, they start to evaluate and evaluate sure intervals throughout the group’s existence. A primary elementary step is commonly to have a look at the franchise throughout the pre-Ovechkin period, and evaluate the outcomes with the Ovechkin period.

This appeared like pretty much as good a spot to begin as any with reference to assessing penalties over the course of the Capitals franchise historical past.

Pre-Ovechkin Period (1974 – 2004)

Previous to the Ovechkin period, the Capitals had the league’s greatest web penalty differential, with 710 extra penalties drawn than penalties taken from 1974 to 2004.

That’s spectacular, and one thing youthful followers most likely discover tough to digest. The Capitals benefiting from penalties over the course of a whole season?

So what about throughout the Ovechkin period?

After (2005 – 2021)

The alternative is true for the Ovechkin period.

The Capitals have the second-worst penalty differential throughout the Ovechkin period, second solely to the Anaheim Geese. The Capitals have taken 314 extra penalties than they’ve drawn.

That’s greater than 1,00o penalties in distinction between the 2 eras. That’s seismic.

So what offers? Was it Ovechkin? Does the league not like Russian gamers? Nope.

We’ve to dig somewhat deeper to see that the shift in web penalties for the Capitals franchise truly started nicely earlier than Alex made his option to the District.


The Capitals franchise had a optimistic differential for every season from 1974 to 1993 (first 19 seasons). Then all of it modified. The graph under plots the online penalties for each season in Capitals franchise historical past.

The shift in web penalties is well recognized and considerably stunning as quickly as you look on the graph. The change is obvious and concise.

The precise shift started after the 1990-91 season, with the primary of many adverse penalty differentials beginning with the 1993-94 season. The Capitals have had a adverse differential for 23 of the following 25 seasons.

So the following query is why? We’ll dig into that within the subsequent put up.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first recreation on the Capital Centre in 1974. His ardour for the Caps has grown over the a long time, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and neighborhood organizer, and most lately led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering at Outdated Dominion College, and is a Programs Engineer throughout intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals behavior.

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