Photo: Kelly L. Cox/USA Today Sports
The 2017-18 NHL regular season is now in the month of March, and teams are trying to earn every single point that they can for the next 5 weeks of NHL action. Every point is critical now, and many teams are still jockeying for position in the standings.
The Washington Capitals are in a tight race in the Metropolitan Division. Only five points separates the Capitals from the 4th seed New Jersey Devils. The Capitals have 14 games in the month of March, so they will be very busy in the upcoming month. As the games become more competitive down the stretch, the Capitals will need find their rhythm, and they need to get mentally prepared for a playoff run.
The Capitals are hanging tough in the Metropolitan Division, but there are still some improvements they can make in their team game. The Capitals must accomplish some team goals in March so that they can be more prepared when the playoffs begin next month. What areas can the Capitals improve on in March? What can they do to ensure they gain some space in the Metropolitan Division standings?
Next week, the Capitals will venture off to California for a 3-game road trip. They will visit Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose. One year ago, the Capitals went to California and went 0-3 on that road trip. The Capitals cannot afford to go to California this year and perform the same way that they did last year. All 3 California teams are in playoff positioning, so the Capitals must go to California and play very good games.
WIN THE DIVISIONAL SLATE
The Capitals have a handful of games left with their Metropolitan Division foes. In March, they have 2 games with the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, 1 game with the Philadelphia Flyers, and 1 game with the Carolina Hurricanes. In addition to these tough games in March, they will play Pittsburgh and New Jersey one more time to close out the regular season.
IMPROVE THE PENALTY KILL
The Capitals penalty kill has been weak at times this season and it has lost them some games. Their penalty kill is at 79.6% effectiveness right now, which is ranked 18th in the NHL. The Capitals need to clean this area up, and need to limit the opposition’s offensive zone time on the powerplay.
Tying into the penalty kill, the Capitals are also among the league leaders in taking minor penalties. They have taken 233 minor penalties this year, which is 8th most in the NHL.
GENERATE MORE SHOTS ON GOAL
This has been a common theme for the Capitals in 2017-18. The Capitals average just 28.6 shots on goal per game, which is ranked 31st in the NHL. To put things into better perspective, the Chicago Blackhawks average 34.7 shots on goal per game, which is ranked 1st in the NHL. More shots on goal leads to more chances to score goals.
By: George Foussekis