The Washington Capitals are finally hitting their stride in the 2018-19 regular season. Winners of six straight games, the Capitals are rolling and they are doing it without two of their top forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie.
The Capitals are shorthanded right now, but there is some good news as Evgeny Kuznetsov is back skating again and could be back in the lineup soon.
-DSP (LBI) skated solo this morning, so he’s not practicing.
-Kuznetsov (concussion) is on the ice with the team in a non-contact jersey
-T.J. Oshie (concussion) is not skating
-Michal Kempny (maintenance) is not skating
-Brooks Orpik (knee scope) is not skating
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) November 28, 2018
While the Capitals are battling some injuries, several players have stepped up their game and are leading the charge for the Capitals.
TOP LINE TOMMY
Ever since returning from suspension, Tom Wilson has been on a tear, and not just with his physical play. Tom Wilson is putting the puck in the net, which is great news for the Capitals roster. Wilson has recorded 6 goals and 12 points in his first 8 games this season. Wilson has filled in on the Capitals first powerplay unit, where T.J. Oshie would usually be.
OVECHKIN IS SCORING A TON OF GOALS
Alex Ovechkin is not slowing down at 33 years young. He has recorded 5 goals in his last 5 games, and has recorded 18 goals in his first 24 games. He is coming off a 49-goal campaign last year.
Ovechkin is used to carrying the offensive load for the Capitals, and is rocketing up the NHL’s all-time goals list. He has now recorded 625 career goals.
NICKLAS BACKSTROM IS QUIETLY PRODUCING
Backstrom has been one of the most under-appreciated players for the Capitals. Backstrom does all the little things well with and without the puck. Backstrom is coming off 3 straight campaigns of 20+ goals and 50+ assists. Backstrom has often lurked behind Alex Ovechkin in the spotlight, but he is a very important piece to the Capitals roster. Backstrom can play in any situation, and is ultimately the Capitals most versatile player. He is right up there with other NHL players like Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar in terms of versatility.
A STEADY PENALTY KILLING IMPROVEMENT
For a majority of the first quarter of the season, the Capitals penalty killing was among one of the league’s top 5 worst.
The Capitals penalty kill has improved in recent outings. In the last 4 games, the Capitals penalty kill has not surrendered a goal in twelve shorthanded chances. The Capitals penalty kill is currently 77% effective, and is currently ranked 22nd in the league.
DESPITE SOME INJURIES, THE CAPITALS DEPTH IS PREVAILING
Entering Wednesday, the Capitals are 14-7-3, and have 31 points. They currently lead the Metropolitan Division by one point over Columbus. The New York Rangers are three points behind the Capitals.
The Capitals are battling through some tough injuries to key players, but the Capitals top players are producing at very high levels. For the Capitals to maintain success into December, the Capitals need their top players to continue to produce. The Capitals have a critical road trip out West to begin the month of December. The Capitals have to play in Vegas and Arizona to begin the month, and those venues are not the easiest places to play.
The Capitals are starting to put everything together, and need to get healthy still, but even with a few players banged up, the Capitals are showing why they are one of the deeper clubs in the NHL.
By: George Foussekis