Through almost 30 games of the season, there are plenty of surprising 5-on-5 point producers on the Washington Capitals, some good and some bad. In this piece, NoVa Caps takes a look at some of those surprises on the team in terms of 5-on-5 point production.
Unsurprisingly, captain Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 12 goals and 20 points while averaging the most ice time among all of the team’s forwards at 16:23 per game. Forward Brett Connolly is right behind him with five goals and 17 points while averaging only 12:21 worth of ice time per game.
Center Nicklas Backstrom is third with 16 points while averaging 15:25 worth of ice time per game at even strength, the second-most ice time at even strength on the team.
Forward Jakub Vrana and defenseman John Carlson are each tied for fourth on the team with 15 points at even strength and Vrana’s nine even-strength goals are second behind Ovechkin. Carlson is third on the Capitals with 30 points behind Ovechkin (36) and Backstrom (34) but only half of his points have come at even strength despite averaging the third-most ice time at even strength among Capitals defenseman at 18:25. Dmitry Orlov leads defensemen on the team with an average of 19:01 worth of ice time per game while Matt Niskanen averages slightly more than Carlson does with an average of 18:33 minutes of even-strength ice time per night.
Forward Tom Wilson‘s 0.63 even strength points-per-game average would put him at 18 points if he had played every game up to this point this season. He missed the first 16 games of the year due to suspension and the last two games due to a concussion. In the 11 games he has played in this season, Wilson, 24, has four goals and seven points at even strength while averaging the third-most even strength ice time per game on the team behind Ovechkin and Backstrom, playing 14:38 per night.
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov, the league’s leading scorer from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season with 32 points, averages only the fifth-most ice time at even strength among forwards (14:10) and his production at 5-on-5 has taken a hit because of it. He only has a goal and 13 points at even strength. Though, with his current pace of 0.57 points-per-game at even strength would put him at 16 points if he didn’t miss six games with a concussion, which would be good enough to tie Carlson for the fifth-most even strength points on the team.
After only scoring nine even-strength goals in all of last season, forward T.J. Oshie is already two-thirds of the way behind that number despite missing 11 games due to a concussion this year. He is eighth on the Capitals with an average of 14:31 ice time per game at even strength.
Orlov has been a nice surprise in terms of even strength production, scoring two goals and 10 points, second behind Carlson among defensemen on the team in that category. Though he averages the most ice time on the team at even strength playing 19:01 per game, he’s spending much of that time defending as part of the team’s best shutdown defensive pair along with Niskanen. The fact that he has put up good offensive numbers at even strength is more impressive if you factor in the burden that he takes on the other side of the ice.
While Ovechkin and Backstrom’s level of production on five-on-five is where it’s expected to be, Connolly’s, Wilson’s, Vrana’s are among the biggest surprises as Connolly and Vrana are tied with each other for third on the team while Wilson averages the most even strength points-per-game on the team. Oshie’s even-strength point production has gone back up after struggling on five-on-five for most of last season, despite missing more games than usual due to injury.
Meanwhile, Carlson’s and Kuznetsov’s even strength production have been one of the biggest disappointments on the team but those numbers will likely go up as the season progresses.
By Harrison Brown