This may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but should the Capitals win their final two games this season, Washington would exactly match last season’s record of 56-18-8 (120 points). So what’s different between the two seasons? As it turns out, a lot.
Simply put, the difference between the two seasons is the trajectory or trend of the Capitals play heading into the playoffs. Here are the records for the last two seasons for the last 20, 13 and 10 games of the season:
LAST 20 GAMES: (MARCH 1 – APRIL 10th)
2015-2016 Season: 11-5-4 (26 points)
2016-2017 Season: 14-5-1 (29 points)
LAST 13 GAMES: (MARCH 15 – APRIL 10th)
2015-2016 Season: 7-3-3 (17 points)
2016-2017 Season: 11-1-1 (23 points)
LAST 10 GAMES (MARCH 22 – APRIL 10th)
2015-2016 Season: 5-2-3 (13 points)
2016-2017 Season: 9-1-0 (18 points)
In the 2015-2016 season, the Capitals were in the midst of “slowing down” during the last 20 games of the season, as their record during the last 20 games progressively flattened. Flip forward one calendar year and the Capitals trend is in the opposition direction.
A lot has been made of how important it is to be playing your best hockey heading into the playoffs, or “getting hot” at the right time, and it looks like the Capitals may be doing just that. However, it should be noted that trends can begin to reverse in a single game, so always take trajectory lines with a grain of salt. Regardless, the goal of the team was to be playing their best hockey come playoff time, and the team appears to moving in that direction.
By Jon Sorensen