The Washington Capitals are off to a fantastic start, winning 30 of their first 40 games this season. The Caps’ power play has once again been highly effective: 2nd in the NHL at 25.4%.
In losses this season, the Caps have only scored 3 goals in 29 opportunities, but in wins they hoist a 30.1% success rate on the power play. The Capitals have been tops the league in PP% the last three seasons with Alex Ovechkin leading the league in power play goals all three seasons. Although the team is scoring on the man-advantage at about the same rate as the past three seasons, Ovechkin only has 7 PPG thus far this year (T-9th in NHL).
Alex Ovechkin has been feared for owning one of the most lethal slap shots in all of the NHL. Last season, Ovechkin scored 14 out of his 25 power play goals on one-timer’s from his office. This season, Ovi has not scored any goals on his signature shot, which could be due to the fact that Mike Green is no longer the one at point position delivering the puck perfectly into his wheelhouse, but teams are also expecting the shot and preparing to defend it. Many of his one-timer’s this season have been blocked before even reaching the goaltender, but the threat of Ovi’s shot still looms and helps open up quality opportunities for other players on the Caps’ power play.
Ovechkin accounted for 25 of the 60 power play goals that were scored last season. The next highest on the team was Troy Brouwer with 8, then Joel Ward with 6. This year, Ovi has 7 PPGs, Oshie has 5, and Johansson and Chimera each have 4. Teams have focused so much of their attention on defending Ovi’s shot that the rest of the ice is opened up for other players to get quality shots on net. The Caps have been very effective when they’ve been able to sneak the puck into the middle of the ice for an Oshie or Williams one-timer close to the net. With a defender shading towards Ovechkin’s side of the ice most of the time, the defense isn’t able to block this particular shot down in front of the gaol.
On the 2nd power play unit, Evgeny Kuznetsov has done a fantastic job of using his skating and nifty passing to create opportunities for teammates. Several times this season, Kuzy has been able to hit the tape on his teammate’s stick right in front of the crease for easy chip-in goals. He’s also fully capable of creating shots for himself, as demonstrated by his filthy PP goal against Boston.
Ovechkin will inevitably score some PPGs from his one-timer this season, but the Capitals have shown they can still score other ways.
By Gabe Meade