Photo: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
December 23 is the day that the non-commercial holiday of Festivus is celebrated, and one of the practices of Festivus is the Airing of Grievances. And even though the Capitals are off to a pretty good start this season, there are grievances to be aired.
So without further ado, here are the grievances related to the NHL in general and the Washington Capitals in particular for 2021.
Their Most Recent Loss
The Caps lost to the Los Angeles Kings on December 18, a loss so bad it deserves multiple grievances aired about it.
Photo: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
- They were playing a mediocre team just below the middle of the Pacific Division. The Kings were playing their second game of a back-to-back set and started Garrett Sparks in goal. Sparks hadn’t won at the NHL level for nearly three years AND was one of the many substandard backup goalies that the Toronto Maple Leafs used to employ. This should have been a golden opportunity to win and pick up two standings points.
- The Capitals held a 2-0 lead with three minutes to go in the second period and still managed to lose the game in regulation. The Capitals were 0 for 6 on power play and gave up a short-handed goal. This leads us to Grievance number two.
The Pitiful Pathetic Powerless Power Play
The Capitals power play has been more than subpar for most of this season and not just in their recent loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
- The Capitals currently rank 28th in power play percentage with 15.56% which is five percentage points worse than the league average of 20.26%. They are only ahead of the Penguins (a shock and just barely at that) and the New Jersey Devils, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Arizona Coyotes, who all have a conversion percentage less than 13%.
- The Capitals have scored only ONE power play goal during the entire month of December in 19 power play opportunities. That is a conversion rate of just over 5%. Note: the league record for worst power play in a season is 8.94%.
- The power play has generally been in a long-time decline on a season-by-season basis since 2016-17, except for the shortened 2020-21 season. Their power play percentages were: 22.98% in 2016-17, 22.54% in 2017-18, 20.76% in 2018-19, 19.44% in 2019-20, and 24.84% in 2020-21. Maybe it’s time for a new scheme or assign a different person to coach the power play. It appears the rest of the league has figured out the Caps’ system.
- The Capitals had four games this season already where they scored NO power play goals, but gave up a short-handed goal.
Overtime Games Have Been A Lost Cause
A Capitals game going to Overtime this season is a guaranteed loss, or at least a guarantee they will not win in the 3-on-3 portion of the game.
- The first five games that went to Overtime were all losses that ended in the 3-on-3 segment. The Caps would generally lose possession, get trapped in their defensive zone, and the other team would strike against their tired players. They finally changed strategies and at least got to the shootout, only to lose in the shootout and finally won two shootouts. Their record in Overtime is 2-7. They lead the NHL in Overtime losses.
- The only other teams who have not won in overtime are the Seattle Kraken, Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Islanders.
Once again, COVID-19 has disrupted the NHL season. It’s hurt the Capitals, as they had multiple players in protocol at the same time they’ve had players out with injuries. Since 15% of NHL players are now in Covid protocol, the NHL has paused the season for the holiday break earlier than normal and now the NHL will not be sending any of their players to the 2022 Olympic Games in China. The Caps had Tuesday’s game with the Philadelphia Flyers postponed due to Covid.
Connor McMichael’s Ice Time
Connor McMichael was considered to be one of the Capitals best prospects prior to this season and is currently considered to be a full time NHL player. However, as of late, he has been getting low ice time.
- In the Caps loss to the Los Angeles Kings, McMichael had 6:18 of ice time, less than recent callup Joe Snively and Brett Leason who always seemed to be the guy chosen for any “paper” transfers to Hershey. Snively and Leason were both sent to Hershey on December 21. This low ice time was during a game where he was one of the players who scored a goal.
- In their recent game against the Winnipeg Jets, the only player who got less ice time than him was Matt Irwin, the seventh defenseman. Show me a seventh defensemen under Peter Laviolette and I’ll show you a defenseman who almost never plays.
ESPN Plus Exclusive
One more grievance to air. Games on ESPN Plus are less accessible than they were when NBC had the rights to broadcast NHL games. It forces people to subscribe to a streaming service, such as ESPN Bundle. Many people with older TV’s needed to purchase a Roku device since their TV’s did not have the appropriate apps.
By Diane Doyle