Sittin' at the End of the (Capitals) Bar

Rob Carr

Somewhere between box cars and fancystats, we invite you to take a look at some numbers and trends for the Washington Capitals you might find useful to impress your friends.

It's a little known fact...

-- Mikhail Grabovski scored in the freestyle competition on Tuesday night against Tampa Bay. That makes four goals on eight shots in the bonus round for Grabovski this season. It is one more goal than the number he came into this season with for his career - three goals on 14 shots.

-- Of the top 10 scorers in the league among forwards through Tuesday's games, only three were "minus" players. The Caps had two of them - Alex Ovechkin (minus-10) and Nicklas Backstrom (minus-4). The Islanders' John Tavares is the other (minus-6).

-- Among players not on injured reserve, Mikhail Grabovski is tied for second in the NHL in shooting percentage (21.4 percent). Steven Stamkos, who is on injured reserve, leads the league overall at 23.3 percent; Columbus' Nick Foligno is at 22.5 percent. The Caps are one of four teams with two players in the top-15 in shooting percentage. Joel Ward is tied for 15th at 17.6 percent. The teams tied with the Caps with most players in the top-15 are Tampa Bay, Dallas and St. Louis.

-- The Caps have dressed seven rookies so far this season - Nate Schmidt, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Alexander Urbom, Connor Carrick, Patrick Wey, and Philipp Grubauer. The last time they dressed more in a season was in 2009-2010 when they dressed: Mathieu Perreault, John Carlson, Jay Beagle, Kyle Wilson, Andrew Gordon, Chris Bourque, Semyon Varlamov, and Michal Neuvirth.

-- Folks make a to-do over the ice time that Tom Wilson is getting (or not getting), but Nate Schmidt ranks tenth among all rookies in total ice time so far, eighth among rookie defensemen. Six of the seven rookie defensemen with more total ice time than Schmidt were first round draft picks.

-- If I told you Jason Chimera was tied for the club lead in points against other Metropolitan Division teams, would you be surprised? Well, he is - tied with Nicklas Backstrom, in fact. Both are 3-6-9 in 10 games against teams in the Metro.

-- About that whole 50-in-50 thing. That has slipped off the radar, but after his four-goal effort against Tampa Bay on Tuesday Alex Ovechkin has 48 goals in his last 50 games. That's a 79 goal pace for 82 games. Almost as impressive, he has goals in 33 of his last 50 games.

-- Until his meltdown against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Braden Holtby was in somewhat rarified air, and it's hard to say if that is a good or a bad thing. Of 50 ranked goaltenders in the NHL, only four had a larger disparity in rankings between their goals against average and their save percentage. Holtby had a "rank differential" of plus-17 with respect to his save percentage (.923, ranked 17th) and his goals against average (2.71, ranked 34th). The four with larger disparities were James Reimer (plus-21), Jonathan Quick (minus-19), Martin Brodeur (minus-21, and Ryan Miller (plus-19). That was on the basis of facing 35.1 shots per 60 minutes. If he had that same save percentage and faced the 24.6 shots per 60 minutes Quick is facing, Holtby's goals against average would have been 1.90.

-- Then there was the meltdown against Tampa Bay. That left Holtby with two early exits in three games... 4.86 GAA, .866 save percentage.

-- Alex Ovechkin has four power play goals in his last nine games (through last night's game). He is on a pace for 30 power play goals, which would be the most since Mario Lemieux recorded 31 extra-man markers in the 1995-1996 season.

-- It looked like the Caps were turning a corner with respect to possession. Through Sunday's games, in 5-on-5 close situations the Caps had a Corsi-for percentage of 50 percent or better in seven consecutive games. Overall they were at 54.4 percent in those games. The results in those situations were not as pleasant. The Caps were 4-2-1 in those games and outscored the opposition in those situations, 7-6.

-- Then there was the game against Tampa Bay... 26.2 percent Corsi-for percentage, 33.3 percent Fenwick-for percentage, and outscored 2-0 in 5-on-5 close situations.

It's a work in progress.

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