Geoff Burke/NHLI via Getty Images
With the Washington Capitals having played 41 games in the 2019-2020 season, it’s time for our annual 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).
After 41 games, the Capitals have a 27-9-5 record with 59 points, are in first place in the Metropolitan Division, first place in the Eastern Conference, and have the best record overall in the NHL. They are six points ahead of the second place New York Islanders and seven points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Here are comparisons to the five previous seasons after 41 games.
|2017-18||25||13||3||53||1st||1st||5th||NoVa Caps Recap after 41 games.|
|2018-19||25||12||4||54||1st||3rd||8th||NoVa Caps Recap after 41 games.|
As a general trend, the Caps would improve their position in their division from the first half through the second half. Their final positions included finishing second in the Metropolitan Division in 2014-15 and first in each of the four subsequent seasons, winning the President’s Trophy during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and winning the Stanley Cup in 2017-18.
Inside the Numbers
Of the Capitals’ 27 wins, 19 were won in regulation, with five overtime wins that did not go to a shootout, and three shootout wins. They have lost five games in overtime, with two of those five overtime losses coming in a shootout.
To break down totals by month, the Caps were 9-2-3 in October, 10-2-3 in November, and 8-5-0 in December. In addition, the team has gone 11-4-4 at home and 16-5-1 on the road.
The Capitals have scored 143 goals, 21 more than the NHL average of 119 goals, and have given up 120 goals, three goals better than the league average. Their Goal Differential is +20, as they have given up 20 less goals than they have scored.
The “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals per NHL.com, are listed as 143 and 118, 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 won three shootouts and lost two shootout so their “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals reflect this.
- Alex Ovechkin – 24
- T. J. Oshie, Jakub Vrana, Evgeny Kuznetsov – 15
- John Carlson — 13
- John Carlson — 37
- Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom — 22
- Jakub Vrana, Dmitry Orlov – 16
- John Carlson – 50 (13 goals; 37 assists)
- Alex Ovechkin – 39 (24 goals,15 assists)
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 38 (15 goals; 22 assists)
- Jakub Vrana – 31 (15 goals, 16 assists)
General Analysis of Offense
So far, the Capitals as a team have scored 143 goals, which, as mentioned above, is 21 more than the league average of 122. Ovechkin leads the team in goals with 24, nearly one-sixth of the team’s output. Five other players have goals in double figures (10 or more goals), including Oshie, Vrana, and Kuznetsov with 15, and Carlson and Wilson with 13, totalling six different players with at least 10 goals, including one defenseman (Carlson).
The offense could be described as top-heavy, given that six players (Ovechkin, Oshie, Kuznetsov, Vrana, Carlson, and Wilson) have scored a disproportionate share (71%) of the team’s goals. Outside of those six players, the next highest goal totals on the team are Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom, who each have eight goals.
Every lineup “regular” has scored at least one goal, with defenseman Nick Jensen the only player who has yet to light the lamp. Carlson has recorded more assists (37) than any other player, with Kuznetsov and Backstrom the closest with 22 assists.
The Capitals have scored an average of 3.50 goals per game, which is tied for fourth in the league (the Colorado Avalanche lead the league with 3.60 goals per game). Additionally, the team has given up an average of 2.93 goals per game, which ranks 11th in the NHL, with the league average being 3.02 goals per game.
The Caps currently rank 13th in the league in shots per game with 31.9 and have given up an average of 30.8 shots, which ranks seventh; the average number of shots per game sits at 31.75. The Capitals’ team shot percentage is 10.9%, which ranks them third in the league, after the New York Rangers and the Avalanche. The Caps have won 49.7% of their faceoffs, which ranks 20th league-wide.
In the Advanced Statistics department, the Capitals’ PDO (added Shot Percentage and Save Percentage) is 100.6, which ties for 11th overall in the league. The Caps have attempted 1,308 shots and yielded 1,229 shots for a +79 differential. The team’s Corsi Percentage sits at 51.5%, while their Fenwick Percentage stands at 51.5%. In addition, their Scoring Chance For Percentage is 52.9%, which puts them eighth in the league.
Starting goaltender Braden Holtby has played in 29 games and recorded 764 saves on 847 shots for a Save Percentage of .902 in the first half of the season, which sits below his career Save Percentage of .917. He has a 17-7-4 record through the first half of the season.
Backup netminder Ilya Samsonov has played in 14 games, starting 12, and has a 10-2-1 record for the year, with a Save Percentage of .918 in his rookie year, and became the fastest rookie goaltender in franchise history to win 10 games. The team’s overall save percentage is .902, which is slightly below the league average of .904.
For the season, the Capitals have scored 27 power play goals on 127 power play opportunities for a conversion rate of 21.2%, which currently ranks 11th in the league. The team’s power play has been in a scoring drought for much of November and December. For October, the conversion percentage sat at 25.4%.
The Capitals’ Penalty Kill percentage is 84.9%, as the team killed 124 penalties in 146 opportunities, ranking them third of 31 teams. The Caps are tied in giving up the most power play opportunities with the Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers, although the Hurricanes and Rangers have played less games. The Capitals give the opposing team an average of 3.56 power plays a game and give up an average of 0.55 power play goals per game. The Caps have scored four shorthanded goals and given up four shorthanded goals this year.
- Alex Ovechkin passed Marcel Dionne (5,363) for third on the NHL’s all-time Shots list on 11/29/2019 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at home
- Alex Ovechkin passed Jari Kurri (23) for the 10-most hat tricks in NHL history on 11/30/2019 against the Detroit Red Wings on the road.
- Alex Ovechkin passed Peter Stastny (1239) for 38th on the NHL’s all-time Points list
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 347th goal while on the road to pass Marcel Dionne (346) for the sixth-most road goals in NHL history on 12/23/2019 against the Boston Bruins.
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 256th power play goal to pass Teemu Selanne (255) for the third-most power play goals in NHL history on 12/28/2019 on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes
- Nicklas Backstrom recorded his 900th career point on 12/20/2019 against the New Jersey Devils on the road. He was the first player from the 2006 Draft class to reach the milestone and the seventh Swedish player in NHL history to do so
- John Carlson passed Scott Stevens (98) for fifth place in franchise history in Goals by a Defenseman on 12/3/2019 on the road against the San Jose Sharks
- John Carlson scored his 100th career goal on 12/4/2019 against the Los Angeles Kings on the road
- John Carlson tied Denis Potvin and Al McInnis for most points recorded by a defenseman in the first 30 games of a season since 1974-75 season.
- John Carlson played in his 727th career game, passing Rod Langway (726) for the second-most games played by a defenseman in franchise history on 12/23/2019 against the Boston Bruins on the road.
- Jakub Vrana played in his 200th career game on 11/20/2019 on the road against the New York Rangers
- Jakub Vrana recorded his 100th career point on 11/27/2019 against the Florida Panthers at home.
- Garnet Hathaway played in his 200th career game on 11/30/2019 against the Detroit Red Wings on the road.
- Michal Kempny played in his 200th career game on 12/14/2019 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road
- Ilya Samsonov has won each of his first seven career starts on the road against the New Jersey Devils on 12/21/2019, becoming the second goaltender in NHL history to accomplish this feat (Brent Johnson: St. Louis, 10 wins from 1998-99 and 2000-01)
Illness and injury
Nicklas Backstrom – 11/20 – 12/6 (eight games)
Carl Hagelin – 11/9 – 11/30 (11 games)
Nic Dowd – 11/1 – 11/3, 11/15 – 11/23 (seven games), 12/31 (Paternity Leave)
Michal Kempny — 12/27-12/28 (two games)
Tom Wilson – 12/28 (one game)
Milestones in Sight
Braden Holtby – One shutout shy of passing Olie Kolzig (35) for the most shutouts in Capitals’ history
Alex Ovechkin – Three goals shy of passing Teemu Selanne (684) for 11th on the NHL’s all-time Goals list
Stats obtained from Hockey Reference.com, NHL.com, and Quanthockey.com
By Diane Doyle