Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals are starting to play their best hockey of the regular season at the beginning of December. They have had plenty of home cooking recently, and it has helped them gain some momentum in the tough Metropolitan Division race.
Alex Ovechkin is heating up for the Capitals. He has 21 goals already, just 12 shy of last season’s 33. If Alex keeps at his current pace, he will likely hit over 40 goals. Ovechkin’s resurgence will help the Capitals deep down the stretch, and he should be in the running for another Rocket Richard Trophy.
Another positive development for the Capitals is the offensive emergence of Tom Wilson. Wilson is showing that he can have an expanded role with the club. Wilson has been paired with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in recent games, and he had an awesome 4-point night against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Wilson’s chemistry with Ovechkin and Backstrom has been very good, and Wilson should set new career highs in offensive categories if he continues to be used in his new role.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 7, 2017
DESPITE THE POSITIVES, IMPROVEMENTS CAN BE MADE IN THE COLLECTIVE TEAM GAME
The Capitals are still trying to find some scoring balance with all 4 of their forward lines. With injuries to Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, and now T.J. Oshie this year, the Capitals have had to mix in young players like Chandler Stephenson and Travis Boyd into the lineup.
A collective team issue for the Capitals is the lack of shots per game. The Capitals average just 28.8 shots per game, which is ranked last in the NHL. The team that averages the most shots in the NHL is Carolina, as they average 35.8 shots per game. Pittsburgh is right behind them at 35.3 shots per game.
Because the Capitals are not throwing many pucks at the net, their shots against total is suffering. The Capitals surrender an average of 32.2 shots per game. This average is ranked in the middle of the pack in the NHL.
Another area the Capitals can improve on is on-ice discipline. The Capitals are one of the league leaders in times shorthanded (104). Because the Capitals put themselves shorthanded, their penalty killing percentage has taken a tumble. The Capitals penalty kill is 78.8% effective, which is 20th in the NHL. The Capitals need to try to avoid giving opposing teams more than 5 powerplays per game. If the Capitals can play a more disciplined game, and can throw more shots at opposing teams, they should be able to draw more powerplays.
By: George Foussekis