It was a tough opening month for the Washington Capitals as they began the 2017-18 campaign. During October, the Capitals struggled to string wins together. Their longest win streak was 2 games, which happened in the first 2 games of the season. The Capitals will look to get back on track in November, and get back into the playoff picture. What do the Capitals need to accomplish in November to get back into the playoff race? How can the Capitals manage November, and get out with a winning record? Let’s look at what the Capitals must do in November.
Getting healthy is easier said than done for the Capitals. The Capitals are still without Andre Burakovsky and Matt Niskanen long term, and Tyler Graovac and Brett Connolly are on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Niskanen is the biggest loss for the Capitals in regards to total time on ice. With Niskanen on the shelf, Barry Trotz must continue to manage the minutes of his young defenders. He needs to be mindful of the situations he places youngsters Madison Bowey, Aaron Ness, and Christian Djoos in.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX AND IMPROVE THE PENALTY KILL
The Capitals are among the top teams in shorthanded situations, and their penalty kill is among the worst in the NHL at just 76.5%. Their penalty kill is ranked 27th in the league in efficiency.
Too many times, the Capitals have gotten into trouble and have taken unnecessary penalties. The Capitals need to limit their minor penalties, and need to find ways to draw powerplays.
HOME COOKIN’ IN NOVEMBER
The Capitals have 14 games in the month of November, with 9 of them being inside of Capital One Arena.
12 of the games the Capitals will play in November will either be against the Atlantic Division or Western Conference. The Capitals have performed well against the Atlantic Division and Western Conference over the last number of seasons.
The Capitals longest home stretch in November is 4 games. Assuming the Capitals can get healthy in November, the Capitals have a winnable slate of games that includes matchups with Arizona, Colorado, Buffalo, and Minnesota.
The Capitals have 2 great centers with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom. While Kuznetsov and Backstrom statistically had a good month of October, they only scored 6 goals combined in the month. Lars Eller had just 1 goal in the month of October. The Capitals top 3 centers combined for just 7 goals in 12 games.
The Capitals need more production from their pivots, especially from their top 2 guys. If more players can contribute goals like Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie do often, this will give the Capitals a better-balanced attack.
By: George Foussekis