Penalties And Peter: A Rare Positive In Capitals History

With just 13 games remaining in the 2022-23 NHL schedule, the Washington Capitals have yet to be eliminated from playoff contention. And last night’s 5-4 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres gave a much-needed boost in maintaining the hopes for Capitals Nation.

Regardless of the Capitals ultimate playoff fate, this could very well be head coach Peter Laviolette’s last baker’s dozen of games at the helm in Washington. Laviolette has received a lot of heat during his tenure in the District, mostly related to his managing and use of younger players. He’s also battled through a mountain of adversity, including a pandemic and an epidemic of injuries.

Regardless of Laviolette’s future status with the team, win, lose or draw, one stat that stands out in Laviolette’s favor is a rarity for the Capitals in franchise history. Net penalties.

The following table plots the Capitals net penalties per season from 1974 to present and blocks the seasons by Capitals head coaches: [Click to enlarge].

Laviolette is the first coach since Adam Oates and second head coach in 30 years to post a positive net penalty differential over the course of their head coaching tenure.

On a side note, we’ve posted on this topic before (here) but it’s worthy to restate because it truly is an oddity, and that;s the dramatic shift for the Capitals, organizationally, that took place in the 1993-94 season. Prior to that season the Capitals were in the positive each and every season in the history of the franchise. Following that season, they were in the negative 24 of the next 30 seasons. What happened in the 1993-94 season?

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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11 Responses to Penalties And Peter: A Rare Positive In Capitals History

  1. Anonymous says:

    What happened in the 1993-94 season? Crazy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If only our PP had been consistent all year!

  3. Anonymous says:

    93-94 is when the league decided Washington was Pittsburgh’s biggest threat to success and they weren’t going to have any part of that. Just a guess.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Ha! Certainly as valid as any of my theories. Crazy how it turned on a Dime that season.

      • Anonymous says:

        Strange indeed. It almost has to be a concerted effort

        • KimRB says:

          Which is why the Caps should win the draft lottery, for the chance to select generational player Connor Bedard. The league OWES us! For all the bad calls over the years, 1988 against the Devils, 1996 against the Pens, 2003 against Tampax, and 2019 against the Hurriclowns all had bad calls go against us. Oddly enough, I can’t remember a single good call go our way, when we did win the Cup. Just a lucky bounce, or two.

    • KimRB says:

      I’d put the date of that in 1991-92. The Caps were up 3-1 in that series. They had scored 20 goals in the first 4 games, but all of a sudden, the offense completely dried up. I think that was pre-Bettman, so you can’t blame it on him

  4. novafyre says:

    I wonder what Pits’ graph would look like for the same period.

    • KimRB says:

      These organizations are joined at the hip. For over 30 years now, they’ve followed parallel paths. But I get this (wonderful) feeling that’ll change soon, since we’ve got a head start on the rebuild. Pens fans are out for Hextall’s blood. Their fans are obnoxious, ugly, and morally bankrupt, but some are quite knowledgeable. They know what’s coming. The Sid, Mario and Geno days are soon to be a distant memory. I’d feel bad for them, if I wasn’t laughing so hard.

      • novafyre says:

        100%. Friend asked me why I read so many Pits posts and articles. Told him it was like looking at a twin. With Fenway buying the Pits, I thought they would be first to the rebuild.

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