Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images
With the Capitals out of game action until Thursday, the team has some time to practice and enjoy themselves before taking the ice. With nine games already in the books, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle takes a look at how the Capitals have fared.
The Washington Capitals have played nine games of the 2016-2017 season. With the aforementioned break before their next scheduled game, it is time to take stock of the team’s performance. So far, they have played nine games, which is more than one tenth of the season but less than one eighth. .
After nine games, the Caps have a record of 4-4-1, which by NHL standards, would count as a break-even performance, but when counting the overtime and shootout losses as losses, would be considered a losing record. They are tied with the New York Islanders in standings points with nine, and are currently residing in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division behind the Islanders, as the Islanders have played fewer games. They are tied in points with both the Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings, but since both the Islanders and Red Wings have played less games, they are currently out of the playoff picture. Detroit is currently considered to be the second Wild Card in the East, due to having a better goal differential than the Islanders.
They are currently 1-3-0 at home and 3-1-1 on the road, with only one of the road wins occurring in regulation.
Game Date Score
- 10/05/2017 Washington: 5 – Ottawa Senators: 4 (Shoot out)
- 10/07/2017 Washington: 6 – Montreal Canadiens: 1
- 10/09/2017 Tampa Bay Lightning: 4 – Washington: (Overtime)
- 10/11/2017 Pittsburgh Penguins: 3 – Washington: 2
- 10/13/2017 Washington: 5 – New Jersey Devils: 2
- 10/14/2017 Philadelphia Flyers: 8 – Washington: 2
- 10/17/2017 Toronto Maple Leafs: 3 – Washington: 0
- 10/20/2017 Washington: 4 – Detroit Red Wings: 3 (Overtime)
- 10/21/2017 Florida Panthers: 4 – Washington: 1
In analyzing the games further, two of the Caps’ four wins were in overtime or a shootout, with one overtime win and one shootout win. This means the Caps have earned only two regulation wins in seven contests. Their first regulation win came against the Montreal Canadiens, who have had a rough start to the season thus far, with a record of 1-6-1, and currently sitting in last place in the Atlantic Division. Last season, the Habs finished first in the same division. The odds are that Montreal is likely not as bad as they’ve been thus far in the season. Their PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage) is currently at 91.5 which will likely improve by the Law of Averages. On the other hand, New Jersey, despite their loss to the Caps, has gotten off to a great start, with a 6-2-0 record. They are likely to regress, given that they finished last in the Metropolitan Division last season and have a PDO of 104.9.
Team Offensive Leaders
- Alex Ovechkin – 10
- T.J. Oshie – 6
- Nicklas Backstrom – 3
- Christian Djoos, Jakub Vrana — 2
- Evgeny Kuznetsov — 12
- Nicklas Backstrom – 9
- John Carlson – 5
- Five tied with 3
- Nicklas Backstrom – 12 (3 goals. 9 assists)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 12 (12 assists)
- Alex Ovechkin – 11 (10 goals, 1 assist)
- T.J. Oshie – 9 (6 goals, 3 assists)
- 2 tied with 5
General Analysis of Offense
In two words, the Capitals’ offense this season thus far could be described as top-heavy. The Caps as a team have scored a total of 28 goals. Ovechkin alone has scored 10 of them, which at 36%, is slightly more than one-third of the team’s goals. The percentage of goals scored by the team’s top two scorers, Ovechkin and Oshie, is 62%, which shows that two players have done nearly two-thirds of the goal scoring. When considering the top five goal scorers on the team, that percentage is now 85%. Aside from Christian Djoos, the Caps have gotten no other goals from defensemen. They have gotten a total of three goals from bottom m-six forwards.
The Caps’ starting goaltender, Braden Holtby, has played in six games and has 182 saves on 196 shots for a save percentage of .929, which is slightly higher than his career save percentage of .922. He has a 4-2-0 record for the year. Backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer has played in three games and has lost all three, losing two in regulation and one in overtime. He currently has a save percentage of .848, which is well below his career norm and will hopefully get better. He has played in the second half of two sets of back-to-back games, with the defense and/or penalty killing hanging him out to dry.
On the season so far, the Capitals have scored eight power play goals in 32 power play opportunities, for a conversion percentage of 25%, which is excellent if sustained throughout the entire season. It currently ranks seventh in the league. When breaking down the data further, the Caps have scored six power play goals in the first five games but only two power play goals since then. The Caps’ Penalty Kill percentage is .769, as they killed 30 penalties in 39 opportunities. That ranks 23rd out of 31 teams, which is below average. They killed 12 straight opportunities at the beginning of the season, until they gave up the game winner in overtime against Tampa Bay on October 9. Since then, the opposition has converted on 36% of their power play opportunities, which is even above the leading overall power play conversion percentage in the NHL. Since the beginning of the season, the Penalty Kill has become worse. The Caps’ penalties have resulted in an average of 4.33 power plays per game being given to the opposition. Given their Penalty Kill percentage, that’s an average of one power play goal allowed per game. A disturbing statistic is the fact that the Caps have given up four shorthanded goals this year, with two in the last two games alone.
- Alex Ovechkin got his 20th career game-winning overtime goal on October 20 against the Detroit Red Wings. This puts him at first on the All-Time list, breaking a tie with Jaromir Jagr
- Jay Beagle played in his 400th NHL Game on October 20 against the Detroit Red Wings
- T. J. Oshie played in his 600th NHL Game on October 21 against the Florida Panthers
- Christian Djoos made his NHL debut on October 11 against the Pittsburgh Penguins
- Nathan Walker made his NHL debut on October 7 against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first Australian-national to play in the NHL and scored his first goal in the game as well
- Madison Bowey made his NHL debut on October 14 against the Philadelphia Flyers
The Road Ahead
A tough road trip to Western Canada looms ahead, with games against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames. Vancouver currently has a 3-3-1 record. They were out of the playoffs last season and many observers have predicted them to do poorly this season. Both Edmonton and Calgary made the playoffs last year, although Edmonton has gotten off to a poor start at 2-5-0, while Calgary is currently 4-4-0 and in the playoff picture due to the Pacific Division being chock full of mediocre teams. Their next home game will be against the New York Islanders on November 2.
The Caps began their season well by winning their first two games, but the turning point was when they blew a two-goal lead to Tampa Bay and lost in overtime. Another turning point, so to speak, was when defenseman Matt Niskanen suffered a thumb injury against the New Jersey Devils and was placed on Long-term Injured Reserve. While they held on to win that game, they have gone 1-3-0 since then. They have trended down in most departments.
Related Reading for 9-Game Review and Analysis:
Review of shots and scoring chances for each of the first 9 games
The Great 8 Out of the Gate: Looking at Alex Ovechkin’s Start through the First 9 Games
Review of Shots, Corsi, Faceoffs and Special Teams after 9 Games
Washington Capitals Injury Report
By Diane Doyle