Through the first 12 games of the 2017-18 season, the Capitals have played their way to a 5-6-1 record, despite a plethora of injuries to key players such as defenseman Matt Niskanen and right wing Brett Connolly. While the Caps will likely rebound once those injured players return, their slow start has some fans concerned about the season as a whole. In this piece NoVa Caps looks at the Capitals’ starts through the first 12 games of seasons since 1999-2000 and the team’s record and result at the end of the season.
Between 1999-2000, the Capitals have experienced both a tremendous amount of regular season success and disappointment, making the Stanley Cups Playoffs 12 times, and missed the playoffs five times. In 1999-2000, the Capitals began the season 4-6-2-0 (including ties), but despite their sub-.500 start, the Capitals finished with 102 points and a first-place finish in the Southeast Division, making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, the Caps lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, four games to one (4-1). The following season started and ended very similarly to the 1999-2000 campaign, as the Caps, again, finished with a sub-.500 record (2-5-4-1) and ended the season losing to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals four games to two (4-2).
The Capitals’ start to the 2017-18 season is their worst start since the 2013-14 season, a season the team started 5-7-0, and struggled throughout, ending the season with a 38-30-14 record, 90 points, and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. The team started the 2014-15 season (the first season under Head Coach Barry Trotz) 4-5-3, and ended up finishing with a 45-26-11 record and 101 points. In the Alex Ovechkin era, the Capitals have had relative success in the regular season, but have struggled to meet expectations in the playoffs, something that has been well-documented.
|Record Through 12 Games (Includes Ties)||Final Record||Made Playoffs?/Result|
|1999-2000||4-6-2-0||44-24-12-2||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|2000-01||2-5-4-1||41-27-10-4||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|2002-03||5-6-1-0||39-29-8-6||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|2007-08||5-7-0||43-31-8||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|2008-09||6-4-2||50-24-8||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals|
|2009-10||8-2-2||54-15-13||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|2010-11||8-4-0||48-23-11||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals|
|2011-12||9-3-0||42-32-8||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals|
|2012-13*||3-8-1||27-18-3||Yes/Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals|
|2014-15||4-5-3||45-26-11||Yes/Lost in Second Round|
|2015-16||9-3-0||56-18-8||Yes/Lost in Second Round|
|2016-17||8-3-1||55-19-8||Yes/Lost in Second Round|
* denotes lockout-shortened season
As one can see, the Caps have started 10 of the last 18 seasons with a record below a .500 winning percentage, but have made the playoffs six times after starting the season with a sub-.500 record through the first 12 games of the season and have missed the playoffs the other four seasons. While that may cause some concern, the team’s roster and the NHL game have changed dramatically since 1999, and the Caps still have a roster capable of being a competitive and contending team once their injured players return from injury. If the team’s depleted blueline can withstand the loss of Niskanen, history shows the Caps have a good chance of making it to the playoffs if the team can find a way to get it together.
By Michael Fleetwood