As game 1 of the first round series between the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes closes in, NoVa Caps is preparing a series of “deep dives” on specific key elements of the matchup. We continue our “deep dives” into the first round series with a closer look at the Capitals and Hurricanes power play and penalty kill units.
On The Season
The Capitals finished the season with the league’s 12th best power play with a 20.8% efficiency. Not a stellar season for the Champions’ man-advantage. The Hurricanes followed similar suit, finishing the season with the league’s 20th best power play with a 17.8% efficiency.
The Capitals had the league’s 24th best penalty kill at 78.9%. This may be the biggest surprise, but with the departure of Jay Beagle, maybe not that surprising at all. The Hurricanes had the league’s 8th best penalty kill at 81.6%, and pose a significant challenge for the Capitals power play.
Since the All-Star Break
Since the All-Star break (last 32 games), the Capitals power play was ranked 19th in the league with a power play efficiency of 19.1% and had the league’s 12th best penalty kill of 82.3%. The power play became lukewarm around the holidays and, with the exception of a few sparks, never really caught fire down the stretch.
For the Hurricanes over the last 32 games, their power play was 17th in the league with a 20.0% efficiency and their penalty kill remained hot with the 6th best in the league at a 85.0% efficiency.
Head-to-Head This Season
December 14: Capitals 1 for 2 on powerplay. Hurricanes 3 for 6.
December 27: Capitals 1 for 4 on power play. Hurricanes 0 for 4.
March 26: Capitals 0 for 2 on powerplay. Hurricanes 0 for 0.
March 28: Capitals 0 for 1 on powerplay. Hurricanes 0 for 1.
For the season series, the Capitals went 2 for 9 for a 22.2% efficiency. The Hurricanes went 3 for 11 for a 27.3% power play efficiency. With the exception of the first game in December, the Capitals penalty kill has been up to the task.
The Capitals added penalty kill stalwart Carl Hagelin, and also added Nick Jensen who can provide support in short-handed situations, to the mix at the trade deadline, which should continue paying dividends in the post season. Capitals penalty kill coach Scott Arniel seems to have things in order, after making much-needed mid-season adjustments to the team’s overall strategy. Some have suggested that the Capitals have toned-down their early-season aggressiveness, and the Capitals number of short-handed goals this season (3, which was 29th in the league) supports that theory.
The biggest special teams concern for the Capitals post season run is most likely, and somewhat surprisingly, the power play, which has struggled lately, and at times, looked to be in pre-season form. After a hot start to the season, the power play has been mediocre and disjointed for large chunks of the season.
The Hurricanes power play has also struggled at times this season, as well as down the stretch in the regular season, and should be squashed by the Capitals penalty kill. The key to special teams will likely center on the Capitals ability to find their power play, and use it effectively against the Canes high-ranked penalty kill.
By Jon Sorensen