Photo: Patrick McDermott/NHL Via Getty Images
With the Washington Capitals having finished the 2018-2019 regular season, it is time to do the fourth and last quarterly assessment of the team. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle looks at the fourth quarter of the Capitals’ season (see First Quarter Review , Second Quarter Review, and Third Quarter Review).
The Capitals ended the 2018-19 regular season with a 48-26-8 record and clinched the Metropolitan Division title, and closed out the regular season with a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders.
The Capitals won the Metropolitan Division for the 2018-19, the fourth consecutive season in which they’ve done so. Within the conference, the Capitals had the third-most points, finishing behind the Atlantic Division-winning Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins. The Caps performed well during the last 21 games of the season, going 14-6-1 to overtake the New York Islanders in the division race; an Islanders team that had led the division at the three-quarter point of the season, and who had gained ground on the other divisional contenders.
Inside the Numbers
Of the Caps’ 49 wins, 40 games were won in regulation, with five overtime wins that did not go to a shootout and four shootout wins. They lost 26 games in regulation and eight games in overtime, with one of those 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, 3-6-3 in January, 9-4-1 in February, 11-3-1 in March, and 1-2-0 in April.
The Capitals scored 274 total goals, which finished as the fifth-most in the league, and was 30 more than the league average of 244. They gave up 248 goals, which tied for 13th-worst in the league, and was four more than the league average. They scored 26 goals more than they gave up. Note: the “Goal Differential” shown for them in the NHL standings is +29 rather than +26. By having a 4-1 record in shootouts, they net three extra points in goal differential. The Caps have a 9-8-0 record in contests that required overtime or a shootout.
The team performed relatively consistently, both home and away. At home, they sported a 24-11-6 record, a win percentage of .585, and points percentage of .658. On the road, the Caps went 24-15-2, a .617 points percentage. The main difference between play at home and their play on the road was the fact they would force overtime more often before losing, as opposed to losing in regulation.
- Alex Ovechkin – 51
- J. Oshie – 25
- Jakub Vrana – 24
- Nicklas Backstrom – 22
- Brett Connolly – 22
- Tom Wilson — 22
- Evgeny Kuznetsov — 21
- John Carlson — 57
- Nicklas Backstrom – 52
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 51
- Alex Ovechkin — 38
- Alex Ovechkin – 89 (51 goals, 38 assists)
- Nicklas Backstrom – 74 (22 goals, 52 assists)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 72 (21 goals; 51 assists)
- John Carlson – 70 (13 goals; 57 assists)
General Analysis of Offense
The Capitals, as a team, scored 274 goals, which, as mentioned above, is 30 more than the league average of 244. Ovechkin scored more than 20% of the team’s goals. There is a large drop off from Ovechkin to the next highest scorer on the team, which is T.J. Oshie who scored 25 goals, with an additional five players close behind Oshie: Jakub Vrana with 24 goals, Tom Wilson, Brett Connolly, and Nicklas Backstrom who have 22 goals, and Evgeny Kuznetsov with 21. There are also three other players, besides those already listed, who are reached double figures in goals.
The Caps scored an average of 3.38 goals per game, which is the eighth-best in the league during the regular season. They have given up an average of 3.02 goals per game, which is the 15th-best in the NHL. They are above the NHL average of 2.98 goals scored and slightly below average in giving up goals.
They currently rank 22nd in the league in shots per game with 30.4 and have given up an average of 31.6 shots, which is 16th-best in the league and near the average for the league, which is 31.4. They have won 45.7% of their faceoffs, which ranks as the worst in the league.
The Capitals’ starting goaltender, Braden Holtby, played in 59 games, started in 58 games and had 1,613 saves on 1,795 shots for a save percentage of .911 which is below his career save percentage of .918. He has an 32-19-5 record for the year with a goals-against average of 2.82. Backup goalie Pheonix Copley played in 27 games, started 24 and had a 16-7-3 record for the year, with a save percentage of .905 and a goals-against average of 2.90. Copley made 702 saves on 776 shot attempts. His career save percentage is now .901, which includes only two other games, including one particularly bad game back in 2016-17.
For the 2018-19 season, the Capitals scored 49 power play goals on 236 power play opportunities, for a conversion percentage of 20.8%, which currently ranks 12th in the league, which is slightly better than the league average of 19.7%. The Caps’ Penalty Kill percentage is 78.9%, as they killed 206 penalties in 261 opportunities, which ranks 24th of 31 teams, which is in the bottom-third of the league. They give the other team an average of 3.4 power plays a game and give up an average of .679 goals per game. The Caps have scored five shorthanded goals this year and given up five shorthanded goals.
- Alex Ovechkin recorded his 106th game-winning goal on the road against the New York Islanders on March 1, tying Toronto Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau for seventh all-time.
- Braden Holtby recorded 250th career win on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 6
- Nicklas Backstrom passed Brad Richards (282) for 50th place on all-time power play assist list on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 6
- Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1,200th point on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 12 and was the 49th NHL player to achieve that milestone. He tied Brendan Shanahan in 48th place in career points.
- T. J. Oshie scored his 300th career assist on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 12
- Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1,201th career point on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 13 and passed Brendan Shanahan (1,200) in career points and is now in sole possession of 48th place on the all-time list
- Nick Jensen played in his 200th career game on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 16
- Alex Ovechkin tied Phil Esposito (246) for fifth-place for most career power play goals on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 16
- Christian Djoos played in his 100th career game on the road against the New Jersey Devils on March 19
- Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 100th career goal at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 20
- John Carlson recorded his 400th career point at home against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 26
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 656th career goal and tied Brendan Shanahan for 13th place on the All-Time List on the road against Carolina on March 26
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 657th and his 658th career goals and passed Brendan Shanahan (655) for 13th place on the All-Time List on the road against Tampa Bay on March 30
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 247th power play goal on the road against Tampa Bay, tying Luc Robitaille (247) for fourth place on the All-Time List and passing Phil Esposito (246)
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the year on the road against Tampa Bay on March 30. This gives him eight seasons of scoring 50 or more goals which is only behind Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy
Capitals Milestones within Reach (for Next Season)
- Alex Ovechkin – one goal shy of passing Luc Robitaille (247) for fourth-place on the NHL’s all-time power play goals
- Nic Dowd – Six games shy of 200 career games
- Braden Holtby – One shutout shy of passing Olaf Kolzig (35) for first place on the franchise shutout list
Injuries and Illness
- Michal Kempny – out since March 22 due to knee injury. Expected to be out 4-6 months and will not return until next season
- Carl Hagelin – missed game on March 22 with illness
- J. Oshie – missed game on March 28 with illness
- Brett Connolly – missed game on March 30 with illness
- Devante Smith-Pelly assigned to Hershey Bears on February 21
- Carl Hagelin acquired from Los Angeles Kings in exchange for draft picks
- Nick Jensen acquired from Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Madison Bowey and draft pick on February 22
- Tyler Lewington called up from Hershey Bears on March 23
- Jonas Siegenthaler called up from Hershey Bears on March 25
- Tyler Lewington assigned to Hershey Bears on March 25
- Jonas Siegenthaler assigned to Hershey Bears on April 2 and called up again on April 3
- Nathan Walker called up from Hershey Bears on April 5
The Road Ahead
The Caps finished in first place in the Metro Division and will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The team’s regular season record for the 2018-19 season is almost eerily similar to their 2017-18 season. Last season, they finished 49-26-7 while this season they were 48-26-8. As can be seen when looking through the quarterly recaps of both seasons, their records for the first quarter, second quarter, and third quarter were very similar, too. Both seasons began with a Tom Wilson suspension. Can the post season end with a similar result, too?
By Diane Doyle