It has been a holly jolly Christmas for the Washington Capitals. As the Caps sit back and relax for the holidays, they will have extra cheer surrounding them. The Capitals sit at the top of the Eastern Conference, and they have a nice cushion inside the Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals enter the Christmas break on a 6-game winning streak. The Capitals have not lost back-to-back games this season. This is something that bodes very well for the future.
The best club in Capitals franchise history has a lot of things to be happy about as they enter 2016. The Capitals are the 2nd highest scoring team in the NHL (3.12 goals for/game). They also give have the fewest goals against per game (2.15). The Capitals are also killing it on special teams. They have the 2nd best powerplay unit (25.7%), and 5th best penalty killing unit (84.4%) in the NHL.
In terms of individual achievements, Braden Holtby has probably been the Capitals MVP this season. Holtby leads the NHL in wins (21), and his 1.96 goals against average and .931 save percentage are excellent numbers among the active NHL starting netminders.
If there is any Capitals player that is long overdue for some (All Star) recognition, it is Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom has 31 points in 30 games in 2015-16, and he has 603 points in 607 career regular season games. It is an utter travesty that Backstrom has not seen an NHL All Star game, since he is a point-per-game player in the NHL. Backstrom is long overdue for an All-Star appearance, and voters should take note to get him into the game.
Christmas is a holiday that is celebrated normally in December. In the hockey world, it is a holiday that comes in June. The Stanley Cup Final is the Christmas week in the NHL universe. As the Capitals celebrate the holidays, there are some things that we would like for the new year (You know we’ve been nice 🙂
- Brooks Orpik’s health and continued good health for the rest of the lineup
The veteran defenseman has been out of action since November 10. The severity of his lower-body injury is really unknown, but his physicality on the blueline is certainly missed in the lineup. Orpik is also a top shot blocker for the Capitals, and he brings a calming veteran presence for the Caps.
Knock on wood, the Capitals have had pretty good health this year, and they have not had many significant injuries. Let’s hope this trend continues as the Capitals enter the spring time.
- More leeway for Tom Wilson
It is pretty clear that Tom Wilson has become public enemy #1 around the NHL. Any hit he delivers, or any scrum that he is involved in, he is under the microscope. Tom Wilson is not a dirty player, but he is a player that plays on the line. The NHL referees should not be so quick to assess him a match penalty, or an extra minor for roughing. There are usually two players involved in a scrum or a fight on the ice.
- Better finish for Brooks Laich
With only 1 goal in 33 games, Laich has struggled to get any kind of sustained offense going. He has spent a majority of the season on the Capitals 4th line, which has changed throughout this year. The Capitals 4th line has been a little inconsistent this year, and there may need to be some changes down the stretch for a deep run in the playoffs.
- Continual Emergence for Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov
The Capitals young guns on the blueline are having good seasons. Schmidt has filled in very well in Brooks Orpik’s absence and has eaten many of those minutes. Orlov is on pace for a career season in goals and points and he is also filling in with some of Orpik’s minutes.
5. And one final request – Andre Burakovsky finds his way back
Andre had all of Caps Nation pretty excited at the end of last season, following his excellent play in the playoffs. But where-oh-where has Andre gone? Please Santa, if we may add one more to the list, help Andre find his game.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
By George Foussekis