With the Washington Capitals having played 41 games in the 2018-2019 season, it is time to conduct a second quarterly assessment of the team. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle looks at the second quarter of the Capitals’ season (see first quarter review HERE).
At the moment, the Caps have a 25-12-4 record and are in first place in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in points and third overall in the Eastern Conference.
FWIW: #ALLCAPS after 41 games (midpoint):
2017-2018: 25-13-3 (53 points) 4th in league
2018-2019: 25-12-4 (54 points) 6th in league
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) January 7, 2019
Inside the Numbers
Of the Caps’ 25 wins, 19 games were won in regulation, with three overtime wins that did not go to a shootout and three shootout wins. Their home record is 12-6-2 while their road record is 13-6-2. The Caps home and road records were identical until their victory against the Detroit Red Wings on January 6, 2019.
The Caps have lost four games in overtime, with one of those three overtime losses coming in a shootout. To break down totals by month, the Caps were 5-3-2 in October, 10-4-1 in November, 9-4-0 in December, and 1-1-1 in January, so far. For a comparison, here is a chart from last season:
The Capitals have scored 141 goals, which ranks seventh in the league and is 14 more than the NHL average of 127 goals, and have given up 120 goals, which is seven goals better than the league average. Their Goal Differential is 21, as they have given up 21 less goals than they have scored.
Their “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals are listed as 144 and 122, given that teams are credited with an extra “Goal For” for shootout wins and debited with an extra “Goal Against” for shootout losses. In the case of the Caps, they’ve won three shootouts and lost another shootout, so their “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals reflect this.
- Alex Ovechkin – 30
- Jakub Vrana – 12
- Tom Wilson — 12
- J. Oshie – 11
- Nicklas Backstrom – 34
- John Carlson — 33
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 29
- Alex Ovechkin – 47 (30 goals, 17 assists)
- Nicklas Backstrom – 44 (10 goals, 34 assists)
- John Carlson – 39 (six goals; 33 assists)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 36 (seven goals; 29 assists)
General Analysis of Offense
So far, the Caps, as a team, have scored 141 goals, which, as mentioned above, is 14 more than the league average of 127. One player, Alex Ovechkin, has scored more than 20% of the team’s goals. There is a large drop-off from Ovechkin to the next highest scorers on the team, who are Jakub Vrana and Tom Wilson, who each have 12 goals. Several other players are close behind in goals, including T.J. Oshie with 11 goals, Nicklas Backstrom with 10 goals, and Brett Connolly with 9
The Caps have scored an average of 3.44 goals per game, which is the sixth best in the league. They have given up an average of 2.93 goals per game, which is the 15th lowest in the NHL. They are above the NHL average of 3.03 goals scored and slightly better than average in giving up goals.
During the second quarter of the season, they had scored five or more goals on five different occasions, and had four goals on four more occasions. But they have scored as many as four goals just once through December 19; i.e. in their December 22 game against the Ottawa Senators when they scored 4.
The Capitals currently rank 23rd in the league in shots per game with 29.8 and have given up an average of 32.0 shots, which ranks as 11th-worst in the league. They have won 47.1% of their faceoffs, which ranks as the worst in the league.
The Capitals enter today’s game against the Red Wings dead last in faceoff winning percentage at 47.1%. The Red Wings are ranked seventh in the league with a winning percentage of 51.6%.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) January 6, 2019
The Capitals’ starting goaltender, Braden Holtby, has played in 28 games and had 824 saves on 905 shots for a save percentage of .910, which is below his career save percentage of .919. He has a 16-10-2 record for the year.
Backup goalie Pheonix Copley has played in 14 games, starting 13 and has a 9-2-2 record for the year, with a save percentage of .915. Copley has made 368 saves on 402 shot attempts. His career save percentage is now .908 which includes only two other games, including one particularly bad game back in 2016-17.
For the season so far, the Capitals have scored 27 power play goals on 126 power play opportunities, for a conversion percentage of 21.4%, which currently ranks eleventh in the league, which is slightly better than the league average of 20.3%. However, their power play percentage has dropped precipitously as they have scored just one power play goal in their last nine games.
Since December 1, the #ALLCAPS power play is ranked 28th in the league with an 11.4% success rate.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) January 6, 2019
The Caps’ Penalty Kill percentage is 77.2%, as they have killed 109 penalties in 147 opportunities, which ranks 25th of 31 teams, which is near the bottom of the league. They give the other team an average of 3.54 power plays a game and give up an average of .805 goals per game. The Caps have given up two shorthanded goals this year.
- Alex Ovechkin tied Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla (625) for 15th on all-time goals scored list on 11/26/2018 in a road game against the New York Islanders.
- Alex Ovechkin passed Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla (625) for 15th on all-time goals scored list on 11/30/2018 at home against the New Jersey Devils.
- Alex Ovechkin recorded his 5,000th career shot on 12/6/2018 in a road game against Arizona.
- Alex Ovechkin passed Mario Lemieux (236) for seventh place on the NHL career power-play goals list on 12/14/2018 in a road game against Carolina. That goal tied him with Brendan Shanahan for sixth place on the NHL power-play goals list.
- Alex Ovechkin passed Mario Lemieux (236) for most power play goals with a single franchise on 12/14/2018 in a road game against Carolina.
- Alex Ovechkin tied Rick Martin and Glenn Anderson (22) for 12th place on the all-time career hat tricks list on 12/14/2018 at home against Detroit. By doing so, he passed Pavel Bure and Darryl Sittler.
- Alex Ovechkin tied Teemu Selanne (23) for 11th place on the all-time career hat tricks list on 12/14/2018 in a road game against Carolina. By doing so, he passed Rick Martin and Glenn Anderson.
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal on January 3, 2019 in a road game against the St Louis Blues. This marked the14th consecutive year he has scored at least 30 goals. He and Mike Gartner are the only two players who have scored 14th goals in consecutive seasons since the beginning of their career. Jaromir Jagr is the only other player who has scored in at least 14 consecutive seasons, although his streak did not start until his second year in the NHL.
- Alex Ovechkin passed Daniel Alfredsson and Michel Goulet on the all-time point list
- Nicklas Backstrom passed Peter Bondra (825) for second place on the Capitals’ all-time points list on 11/26/2018 in a road game against the New York Islanders
- Nicklas Backstrom passed Mike Ridley (218) for fourth place on Capitals’ goal list on 12/2/2018 at home against Anaheim.
- Nicklas Backstrom tied Henrik Zetterberg (623) for eighth all-time in assists among Swedish-born players on 12/29/2018 in a road game against Ottawa.
- Nicklas Backstrom passed Henrik Zetterberg (623) for the eighth most assists by a Swedish born player.
- John Carlson – Passed Sergei Gonchar (272) for fourth most assist by defenseman in franchise history on 11/19/2018 in a road game against Montreal.
- John Carlson – Passed Brendan Witt (626) for fifth place in games played in franchise history among defensemen on 11/19/2018 in a road game against Montreal.
- John Carlson – Passed Mike Green (360) for fifth most points by a defenseman in franchise history, 12/2 vs. ANA.
- John Carlson — With his 112 career power play assist, John Carlson has passed Mike Green (111) for the sixth most power play assists by a Capitals defenseman in franchise history – Dec 27.
- Dmitry Orlov – Recorded 100th career assist on 11/19/2018 in a road game against Montreal Dmitry Orlov – Played 400th career game on 12/29/2018 in a road game against Ottawa. He’s the 14th defenseman in franchise history to participate in 400 games and the second Russian (Sergei Gonchar: 654 games).
- Tom Wilson – Played 400th game on 11/30/2018 at home against the New Jersey Devils.
- Braden Holtby – Recorded 10,000th career save on 12/2/2018 at home against the Anaheim Ducks.
- Devante Smith-Pelly – Recorded 100th career point on 12/15/2018 at home against Buffalo.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – Got his 300th career point on 1/6/2019 in a road game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Capitals Milestones within Reach
- Brooks Orpik – Six games shy of 1,000 career games
- Alex Ovechkin – 12 points shy of passing Sergei Fedorov (1,179) for the most points in NHL history by a Russian-born player.
- J. Oshie – Two goals shy of 200 career goals
Injuries and Illness
- Brooks Orpik – Had been on Long Term Injured Reserve retroactive to October 28 with a lower body injury and returned to lineup on December 31
- Michal Kempny – Was out October 3-4 with concussion; out November 14 with illness
- John Carlson – Was out on November 9 with lower body injury
- Travis Boyd – Was out from October 3 through October 27 with broken foot
- J. Oshie – Left game on November 14 with upper body injury (concussion) and returned to lineup on December 11
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – Left game on November 14 with upper body injury (concussion) and returned to lineup on November 30
- Christian Djoos — Out of the lineup since December 14 with compartment syndrome
- Matt Niskanen — Missed the games on December 29 and December 31 with head injury
- Tom Wilson — Left game on December 4 with upper body injury (concussion) and returned to lineup on December 14.
- Braden Holtby – Missed games of November 14 and 16, due to injury. Returned on November 19
The Road Ahead
The Caps play the Philadelphia Flyers at home on January 8 to begin the second half of the season. After that, they go to Boston to play the Bruins on January 10 but return home to play the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 12 and the St. Louis Blues on January 14. They travel to Nashville for a game on January 15. For the month of January, they play twelve games, five at home and seven on the road. Their last game of January will be against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. After that, it is time for the All-Star Break.
The Caps currently have a 25-12-4 at the season’s midpoint. Last year at the season’s midpoint, the Caps were 25-13-3. The records from 2017-18 and 2018-19 are roughly similar. For both the 2017-18 and 2018-19, the Caps had gotten off to a mediocre start in the first quarter of the season but rebounded during second quarter. Caps were leading the Metro Division but behind Tampa Bay who lead the Eastern Conference. The Caps Power Play percentage of 21.4% is slightly ahead of last year’s percentage of 19.2%; however, their power play, as of late, has been unproductive, as they have scored just one power play goal in the last nine games. The Caps Penalty Kill percentage this year is 77.2% which is behind their percentage of last year at 80.3%.
The year has been marked by injuries to defensemen, with long-term injuries to Brooks Orpik and Christian Djoos. Orpik missed two months and needed surgery but has returned. Djoos has been out since mid-December and there is no timetable for his return. Both John Carlson and Matt Niskanen had short-term injury absences. With the injuries, Madison Bowey and Jonas Siegenthaler have gotten more responsibility on defense and Tyler Lewington was called up from Hershey to fill in. There have been plenty of injuries to forwards this year as well, with T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov both leaving the same game with concussions and missing time and Tom Wilson leaving a game with a concussion. Travis Boyd missed time early in the year, as well.
While the Caps are leading the Metro Division, a losing streak could drop them into fourth place as Pittsburgh, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the New York Islanders are close behind them, with Pittsburgh two points behind, Columbus three points behind, and the Isles four points behind. Meanwhile, the fifth place team in the Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens, is just five points behind the Caps.
The second quarter of the season was marked by streaks. There was the seven-game winning streak that took place during the second half of November. There were also a five-game winning streak and a four-game winning streak that took place in December. Between winning streaks, there was the game of December 2 where they ran up a 5-1 lead against the Anaheim Ducks, only to blow the lead and lose in regulation. Calendar year 2018 also ended badly, in a game on New Year’s Eve where the Caps had a 3-1 lead against the Nashville Predators but gave up six unanswered goals and lost 6-3.
With such a similar record as last season, the hope for fans is that the team follows the same script as last year’s team who had gone onto win the Cup.
By Diane Doyle