Photo: John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images
As the calendar turns to the month of April, the rest of the 2021-22 NHL regular season lies in the headlights for the Washington Capitals following a 6-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes to end the month of March. In this piece, we look ahead to the rest of the road for the Caps.
WHERE THINGS STAND
As things currently sit, the Capitals find themselves in fourth-place with a 37-21-10 record, 84 points, and +28 Goal Differential. They sit six points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins, and 15 ahead of the fifth-place Columbus Blue Jackets. In terms of the Eastern Conference as a whole, the Caps are eighth, ahead of Columbus and three points behind the Boston Bruins, who they have a 0-2-0 record in two games this season.
HEAD 2 HEAD RESULTS
Below is a look at the Capitals’ performance against each of the opponents faced this season (SOURCE: Hockey Reference/Sports Reference LLC)
TAKING (on) THE METRO
The Caps, as mentioned above, currently sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division, and have gone a combined 14-6-1 against their division rivals in 21 Games Played thus far. They have the most wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets, winning three of their four games against both clubs during the regular season. The Philadelphia Flyers are the only team the Caps have a losing record against in the Metropolitan this season, with one game left to play against their longtime rivals from the City of Brotherly Love.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The month of April figures to be a crucial stretch run for the Caps, who sit in the second and final wild card spot for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, three points behind the first-place Boston Bruins, whom the Capitals have gone 0-2-0 against this season.
Their first five games of the month (4/5 at home) come against the Minnesota Wild (41-20-4), Tampa Bay Lightning (42-18-6), Pittsburgh Penguins (who sit third in the Metropolitan Division with a 40-18-10 record), the Bruins (41-20-5), and the Flyers (21-35-11). Overall, Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s club plays a total of 14 games in the final month of the season.
Of their 14 games in the regular season’s final month, six of them are at Capital One Arena, where the Caps have recorded a 16-14-5 record (.529), a -1 Goal Differential (108-107), and have allowed 3.09 Goals Against Per Game, while scoring 3.08 a game. The remaining eight contests are in opponents’ barns, in which the Capitals have fared much better this season, going 21-7-5 (.712), with a +26 Goal Differential (113 GF-87 GA), and have averaged 3.42 Goals For per Game, while allowing their hosts 2.64 Goals Against.
– Five of the Capitals’ games come against Metropolitan Division (four teams – the New York Islanders twice) opponents, while three opponents (Arizona, Philadelphia, Montreal) have losing records
– Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin has a combined 22 Points (8G, 14A) in 20 games against the team’s April opponents, while Center Evgeny Kuznetsov has 25 Points (7G, 18A) in 20 Games.
– The Capitals have not finished a regular season with more losses at home than victories since the 2006-07 season, during which they went 17-7-7
– Goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov, have gone 16-14-4 and 20-11-3 against the remaining opponents they have faced respectively, in their NHL careers.
The Capitals’ final month of the 2021-22 regular season will be a crucial one for the team to right inconsistencies in their game, get their key players healthy for a postseason run, and find the right line combinations for an effective 60 minutes. With their first game of the month coming on Sunday, the team’s final month figures to be an interesting one.
By Michael Fleetwood