Pucks in Depth: Pageau Off To A Slow Start … The Capitals have goaltending controversy
The Washington Capitals have a goaltending controversy
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The early returns on Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade have not been promising

The New York Islanders went all-in, to speak, on deadline day. They parted with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd (conditional) round picks to land Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators.

While I’ll always admire a team doing anything possible to improve, it was a borderline absurd price to pay for Pageau.

He’s going to have to contribute a lot to be worth close to what the Isles invested into him (be it draft capital, or dollars). The early returns aren’t overly encouraging.

Pageau has two points in seven games, all of which were losses. He was the beneficiary of a ridiculous bounce in his first game and has found the scoresheet once in six games since while averaging approximately 19 minutes per night. That’s not the end of the world, though. Points can come and go.

What’s more concerning: Pageau’s on-ice metrics at 5v5. He owns a 44.32 Corsi For%, 43.32 Expected Goals For%, and the Isles have been out-scored 6-1 with Pageau out there.

His relative numbers (-6.11 CF%, -9.35 xGF%) slot him comfortably near the bottom of the team.

Pageau is a solid player and I’m sure his numbers will improve – at least a little bit – in due time. But the decision to buy so high on Pageau seemed questionable at the time and the last couple of weeks certainly haven’t helped the cause.

Washington Capitals have a goaltending controversy

While the Capitals are enjoying another successful season – they sit 5th in points and are holding onto top spot in the Metro Division – the road has been a little rocky of late.

There are 16 teams with as many or more points than the Capitals since December 1st and none of them are bleeding goals at as alarming of a rate. In fact, only Detroit and Ottawa have given up more 5v5 goals on a per 60-minute basis.

A big reason for that is poor goaltending. Not from rookie Ilya Samsonov, but rather Stanley Cup winner Braden Holtby.

Samsonov has actually been one of the best netminders in the NHL during the aforementioned time frame.

Despite not seeing a starter’s workload, only five goaltenders have saved more goals than expected since December 1st.

Ilya Samsonov's 5v5 numbers since December 1st

He is not the problem. Braden Holtby is.

Holtby owns a horrific .895 save percentage at 5v5 and has arguably performed at a worse level than anybody. No, seriously.

Of 58 eligible goaltenders (500+ minutes), only three own a worse SV% and nobody has unperformed to the same extent as Holtby.

Braden Holtby's 5v5 numbers since December 1st

Holtby may have the experience, and Stanley Cup ring, but if he doesn’t drastically turn his season around – and fast – the Capitals will have no choice but to bench him come playoff time. At least not if they intend on winning.

Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com

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