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The Key to Mike Ribeiro's Rebound Season in Washington.

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Mike Ribeiro is having what seems to be a giant rebound season in Washington. What is driving his success?

Bruce Bennett

Mike Ribeiro left the Stars after what was a very poor season. The Stars as a team struggled. Ribeiro was a heavily negative Corsi player, and the Stars ultimately had to protect him at even strength in their attempts to make the playoffs. The Stars power play, which essentially ran through Ribeiro, was also one of the worst power plays of the past five years.

Needless to say, things went poorly. This season with the Washington Capitals Ribeiro appears to be having having a career renaissance. The Capitals aren't where they want to be in the standings, but Ribeiro is producing at a very high level. He has no doubt re-established his value for his next contract.

It would be an understatement to say that I have been a bit skeptical of all of the praise that has been sent Ribeiro's way over the course of this shortened season. How is he doing it? What makes this season so much different for Ribeiro compared to his last year as a Dallas Star?

The answer isn't found at even strength. Mike Ribeiro is essentially the same player at even strength this season as he was in 2012. Below are the shot rates with Ribeiro on the ice and his goals + primary assists at even strength in 2012 and 2013.

SF/60 SA/60 G + A1/60
2013 26.3 31.4 1.4
2012 25.8 30.3 1.83

All three rates are essentially the same with one notable difference: Ribeiro was actually more productive at even strength last season than this season. Small sample size questions obviously come into play, but at even strength Ribeiro was arguably better with the Stars in 2012 than the Capitals in 2013

Part of that production difference could come from usage. The Stars using Ribeiro in easier situations would boost his 2012 production.

2013 55 -0.273
2012 53.7 0.59

But, Adam Oates is using Ribeiro in easier ice time than Glen Gulutzan did last year. In easier even strength ice time Ribeiro's production has gone down. So, before we resort to chalking his increased production up to sorcery let's take a look at Ribeiro's power play production.

PP SF/60 G + A1/60 On Ice S% TOI/60
2013 42.2 6.82 22.73 3.46
2012 33.8 2.06 14.18 2.76
2011 50.4 2.82 12.24 3.64
2010 52.9 3.56 13.06 3.31

Ribeiro is feasting on the power play. He has seen a huge bump in power play time thanks to the Capitals getting on the job more often. He has one of the highest on ice shooting percentages in the NHL on the power play. And, production wise, he is producing at twice the rate of his highest available season.

The shooting percentage is a little high, so a little regression there would make sense, but the Capitals power play is a perfect fit for what Ribeiro does. He is allowed to camp out on the side boards and make plays. The forward playing on the other side boards is none other than Alex Ovechkin. It certainly hasn't hurt.

This isn't to say that Ribeiro hasn't fit in well with the Capitals. He obviously has, but he isn't doing anything out of the ordinary Mike Ribeiro playbook. He has been himself at even strength, and his production has seen a huge boost from the significantly better Capitals power play which gets more opportunities than the 2012 Stars did. His added production this season has no doubt added some zeros to his upcoming paycheck, but the "rebirth of Ribeiro" is a bit overblown.