Washington Capitals First Trimester Review: 2020-21 Season

In a “typical” seasons, we’ve traditionally reviewed the Capitals performance for each quarter. With the 2020-21 season being an abbreviated 56-game season instead of the normal 82-game season, we will change our tack and review the team’s performance at each trimester.

This review covers the team’s first 21 games, including the games against the Devils on February 26 and February 27.  While technically a breakdown of a 56-game schedule by trimesters should be an 18 or 19 game segment, due to the layout of the Caps’ schedule, it was determined to include those two additional games with the first trimester review.


After 21 games, the Caps have a 12-5-4 record with 24 points, are currently in first place and two points ahead of the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders in the Mass Mutual East Division. They have a points percentage of .667, which ranks third behind the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins.

Inside the Numbers (For Wins and Losses)

Of the Capitals twelve wins, ten were won in regulation, one was won in overtime that did not go to a shootout, and one was won in a shootout. They have lost four games in overtime, with two of those four overtime losses coming in a shootout.

Breaking down numbers by month, the Caps were 6-0-3 in January and 6-5-1 in February. They are 7-3-2 at home and 5-2-2 on the road.  They are 6-0-4 in games decided by one goal or less and 3-3-0 in games decided by three or more goals.


The Capitals have scored 72 goals, which is 13 more than the NHL average of 59 goals, and have given up 67 goals, which is 8 goals worse than the league average. Their Goal Differential is +5.

The “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals in the NHL.COM standings board are listed as 72 and 69, given that teams are credited with an extra “Goal For” for shootout wins and debited an extra “Goal Against” for shootout losses. In the case of the Caps, they won one shootout and lost two shootouts so their “Goals For” and “Goals Against” totals reflect this.

Team Leaders


  • Nicklas Backstrom – 10
  • Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin, Jakub Vrana – 7
  • John Carlson, Conor Sheary, T.J. Oshie – 5


  • Nicklas Backstrom – 15
  • John Carlson — 14
  • Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson – 10
  • T.J. Oshie — 9


  • Nicklas Backstrom 25 (10 goals, 15 assists)
  • John Carlson – 19 (five goals; 14 assists)
  • Alex Ovechkin – 17 (seven goals, 10 assists)
  • Tom Wilson – 10 (seven goals, 10 assists)

More complete team offensive statistics are in graphic below. (Click to enlarge).

General Statistical Analysis


  • Of the 72 goals scored this season, 55 were at even strength, 16 were on the power play, and one was scored short-handed. Four goals were scored against an empty net.
  • Of the 67 goals they gave up, 47 were at even strength, 14 were on the opponents’ power play and 3 were when the opponent was short-handed.
  • The Caps have scored five empty net goals but have yet to score when their own net was empty. The opponents scored three times when they had an empty net, and six times were when the Caps had an empty net.
  • The Caps scored 50 goals during 5-on-5 even strength situations while the opponents scored 40 goals at even strength.
  • They have averaged 3.43 goals per game, which ranks in a tie with the Edmonton Oilers for fourth in the league, while their goals against average is 3.19, which is seventh worst.
  • The team’s leading goal scorer this year is Nicklas Backstrom with ten goals.  After that, three players (Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin, and Jakub Vrana) have seven goals,  and then three more players are tied with five goals (John Carlson, Conor Sheary, and T.J. Oshie).

Below is a breakout of players’ offensive statistics at 5 on 5 even strength to detail the goals, primary, and secondary assists.


  • The Capitals have taken 606 shots on goal and given up 631 shots. At even Strength, they have taken 488 shots and opponents have taken 493 shots. Their overall shooting percentage is 11.9%.
  • Corsi For Percentage — Their Corsi For Percentage (CF%) at even strength is 48.86%, which ranks 20th in the league.
  • Fenwick For Percentage – Their Fenwick for percentage (FF%) at even strength is 48.51%, which ranks 23th in the league.
  • Shots For Percentage – Their Shots For Percentage (SF%) at even strength is 49.75%, which ranks sixteenth in the league.
  • Goals For Percentage – Their Goals For Percentage (GF%) at even strength is 55.56%, which ranks seventh in the in the league.
  • Expected Goals For – Their Expected Goals For Percentage (xFG%) at even strength is 50.27%, which ranks sixteenth in the league.
  • Scoring Chances – Their Scoring Chance For Percentage (SCF%) at even strength is 50.19%, which ranks 16th in the league. They had 393 scoring chances and 390 scoring chances against.
  • PDO — Their Percentage Driven Outcome (PDO) at even strength is 1.021 based on a shot percentage of 10.25% and a save percentage of  91.89, or expressed in three digits as .919.

Below is an breakout of the advanced statistic for each individual player.


Rookie Vitek Vanacek has started in 17 of the team’s 21 games so far this season. He has made 470 saves on 517 shots for a save percentage of .909 in the first trimester. He has a 9-4-3 record for the year.

Ilya Samsonov has played in just three games this year, two before he was out due to Covid. He has made 65 saves in 74 chances for a save percentage of .878.

Craig Anderson has made one start this season thus far.

The Caps goaltenders as a whole have made 564 saves out of 625 shots for a save percentage of .902.

Special Teams

For the season, the Capitals have scored 16 power play goals on 55 power play opportunities, for a conversion rate of 29.09%, which currently ranks fourth in the league.

The Caps’ Penalty Kill percentage is 79.69%, as they killed 56 penalties in 70 opportunities, which ranks twelfth out of 31 teams. They give the other team an average of 3.33 power plays a game and give up an average of .67 power play goals per game. The Caps have scored one shorthanded goal and given up three shorthanded goals this year.

Milestones Achieved

  • Brendan Dillon played in his 600th NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres on the road on 1/15/2021.
  • Nicklas Backstrom tied Peter Bondra in games played (951) for the Capitals’ franchise on 1/22/2021 and passed him in games played on 1/242021 with both milestones coming against the Buffalo Sabres at home
  • John Carlson recorded his 376th assist and passed Dale Hunter (375) for fifth most assists in team history against the Buffalo Sabres at home on 1/22/2021
  • Daniel Sprong played in his 100th NHL career game against the Buffalo Sabres at home on 1/22/2021
  • Alex Ovechkin tied Mike Gartner in career goals (708) and also gained sole possession of fourth place in game winning goals with 111 on 1/30/2021. This broke a tie with both Teemu Selanne and Brett Hull who had 110.
  • Garnet Hathaway played in his 250th NHL career game on 1/30/2021
  • Zdeno Chara played in his 1564th NHL career game which tied Nicklas Lidstrom for the 5th most in NHL history by a defenseman on 2/4/2021
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 709th goal and passed Gartner in career goals to take over sole possession of seventh place on the All Time List at home against the Rangers on 2/4/2021
  • Tom Wilson earned his 200th NHL point on a day where he scored one goal and recorded three assists against the Philadelphia Flyers at home on 2/7/2021.
  • Zdeno Chara played the 1,565th game of his career against the Philadelphia Flyers at home on 2/7/2021, which passed Nicklas Lidstrom for fifth most games among defensemen, and thirteenth on the All Time list for games played.
  • Nicklas Backstrom scored his 250th NHL career goal on the road against Pittsburgh on 2/14/2021.
  • Richard Panik scored his 100th career assist on the road against Pittsburgh on 2/16/2021.
  • Lars Eller recorded his 300th career point against the Buffalo Sabres at home on 2/18/2021.
  • John Carlson recorded two power play points (a goal and an assist) on February 21 against New Jersey at home to pass Scott Stevens (182 apiece) for tenth place all-time in Caps history on 2/21/2021. He now has 183 power play points.
  • Alex Ovechkin recorded his 487th power play point against the Buffalo Sabres on 2/18/2021 to tie Pierre Turgeon, his 488th power play point on 2/21/2021 to tie Denis Savard and Doug Gilmore, and his 489th to pass Savard and Gilmore for 28th place on the All Time List.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov played in his 490th game with the Caps franchise on 2/25/2021 tying Bobby Carpenter for 31st place in franchise history
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his 390th point against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on 2/23/2021, tying Bobby Carpenter for 18th place in franchise history
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his 272nd assist on 2/21/2021 against the New Jersey Devils to tie Sergei Gonchar (272) and his 273rd assist on 2/23/2021 to pass Gonchar for 14th place on the Caps’ all-time list

Milestones in Sight

  • Alex Ovechkin – 5 points needed for 1,300 for his career. He will be the 35th player in NHL history to reach that mark.
  • Alex Ovechkin – 4 power play points needed to pass Mike Modano (489) for 27th place in power play points.
  • Alex Ovechkin —  4 goals needed to tie Phil Esposito (717) for sixth place on the NHL all-time list.
  • Alex Ovechkin —  3 power play goals needed to tie Brett Hull (265) for second place all-time.
  • Nicklas Backstrom – 1 assist needed for 700 career assists
  • Nicklas Backstrom – 1 overtime goal needed to break a tie with Mike Green (8) and take over second place alone in Caps history (Ovechkin ranks first with 24).
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 5 points needed for 400 career NHL points.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 1 overtime goal needed to tie Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green (8 goals) for second place on the Capitals All Time List and 2 overtime goals needed to pass both Backstrom and Green for second place all-time on the Caps’ list.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 1 power play point needed to tie Bobby Carpenter (116) for 20th place in team history.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov – 4 assists needed to tie Kevin Hatcher (277) for 13th place.
  • John Carlson– 2 game-winning goals needed to tie Michal Pivonka (27) for tenth place on the Caps’ all-time list.
  • John Carlson – 1 power play points needed to tie Sergei Gonchar (185) for ninth place all-time in Caps history.
  • John Carlson – 3 points needed to reach 500 career points.
  • Justin Schultz – 1 game needed 500 career games.


T.J Oshie – 2/7 (1 game)
Jakub Vrana – 2/7 (1 game)
Justin Schultz – 1/30-2/7 (4 games)
Evgeny Kuznetsov – 1/22-2/7, 2/27-2/28 (10 games)
Ilya Samsonov – 1/22-2/7 (8 games)
Connor Sheary – 2/4 (1 game)
Lars Eller – 1/28-2/4 (4 games)
Dmitry Orlov – 1/22-1/28 (4 games)
Alex Ovechkin – 1/22-1/28 (4 games)
Tom Wilson – 1/24 – 1/26 (2 games)

Related Reading
Capitals Have Been The NHL’s Third-Most Injury And Illness Prone Team So Far This Season
Natural Stat Trick Team Table
Hockey Reference: NHL 2021

Statistics obtained from National Stat Trick, Hockey Reference, Quanthockey, and NHL.com.

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
This entry was posted in Data and Analytics, Defense, Goaltending, News, NHL, Offense, Penalty Kill, Players, Power Play, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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