Is The Powerplay The Key To The Capitals Success?

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

It is no secret that the Washington Capitals have been known to execute on power plays over the past few seasons. To be exact, since the 2014-15 season, the Capitals haven’t been out of the Top 5 in Power Play Goals, bar last season. The Capitals are a whopping 216/940 on goals (23%) and those numbers are continuing to rise. 

As previously noted, Last season showed different numbers. 30 of the 31 teams in the National Hockey League averaged 50 goals over 250 opportunities. The Capitals scored 55 times on 224 power play opportunities, above league average. Those numbers became even better in the playoffs.

In Round 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington scored 24 goals in the six-game series. Of those 24, nine of them came on power plays. To put that into perspective, 15 goals were scored outside of power play. Columbus scored 18 goals against Washington. Without the Capitals nine power play goals, the outcome of Round 1 would have been different. In Round 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington scored only four times in 17 power plays. All four goals were scored in four different games. Those four games resulted in a Capitals win. Did momentum change in the four games Washington scored a power play goal?

In total, Washington scored an impressive 87 goals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Of those 87 goals scored, 21 of them came on Power Play opportunities. Without Washington’s man-advantage opportunity, they would have only scored 66 goals, pushing them out of the playoffs fairly-early. The only team to have better Power Play statistics during a Stanley Cup run are the 1981 New York Islanders, who went onto repeat in 1982 and 1983.

Since the start of the 2018-2019 season, the Washington Capitals have six goals on  power play opportunities (46.2%). Evgeny Kuznetsov has seven points (three goals and four assist) just four games into the season. All three of Kuznetsov’s goals and one of his assists have come on Washington Power Plays. It was noted at the beginning of the season that numerous players had stepped up to become the “Penalty Killer.” Washington ranked 15th in Penalty Kills in 2018, below the rival Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The bottom line is that opposing teams need to fear Washington’s power play. Both Vegas Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant and Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Cooper stated during the 2018 playoffs that the Washington Capitals’ Power Play is “Unstoppable” and “The best in hockey.” Without the Capitals’ execution on power plays, their offense would not be ranked one of the highest in the NHL, and may not have led them to their first Stanley Cup Championship. Washington will need to continue to execute on open opportunities on the man-advantage to bring the Stanley Cup back to DC.

By Connor Greenlee

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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3 Responses to Is The Powerplay The Key To The Capitals Success?

  1. J says:

    Pp is key to any of the top teams bc 5 on 5 usually is even when you get to that level. So its about who can cash in 3-4 or 3-5 pp chances when given those chances and who gets the greasy goals

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