Sittin' at the End of the (Capitals) Bar

Patrick Smith

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...

-- Alex Ovechkin has three career four-goal games. OK, that's not such a little known fact. But here's the thing. The Caps needed those goals in those games...badly. The first time he did it was on December 29, 2007, against Ottawa. The Caps won, 8-6, but not without the Senators clawing back to within one goal four times before Ovechkin got his fourth on an empty-netter. The second time was against Montreal on January 31, 2008. The Caps blew a three-goal lead in that one to send the game to overtime, when Ovechkin scored to give the Caps a 5-4 win. Then there was the four goals last week, all of them scored after Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead, the last one with just 33 seconds left to send the game to extra time, where the Caps won in a shootout. Ovechkin had the tying or winning goal in all three games.

-- Nicklas Backstrom had four assists in that game against Tampa Bay last week. It was the eighth time in his career he recorded a four-assist game. That is probably not all that surprising to Caps fans. It might not even be all that surprising that Ovechkin has a four-assist game in his career (January 15, 2010 against Toronto; the Caps won, 6-1). Do you know who was the last Capitals not named "Backstrom" or "Ovechkin" to be credited with four assists in a game? Jaromir Jagr? Good guess, and he did do it, but he wasn't the last one to do it. Adam Oates? Yup, he did it, but he wasn't the last one to do it, either. Nope, it was, drum roll, please... Kip Miller. It was against the Florida Panthers on January 11, 2001, and even though Jagr recorded four assists in the same game (along with three goals), Miller had the last assist credited.

-- Even with the 11 times that the Caps have gone to the Gimmick to settle a game this season (through Sunday), they rank only 19th in total trick shot competitions since the introduction of that infernal contraption. They have 86 such decisions in that manner with a record of 41-45. The leader, at least through Monday's games? Chicago, with 99 such decisions (49-50). And if you're wondering, Colorado has the all-time best winning percentage (.658 on a 50-26 record), Philadelphia the worst (.338; 23-45).

-- It seems that every year lately, a less-than-heralded Cap enjoys a career season. Two years ago it was Jason Chimera, who had the first 20-goal game of his career. Last year it was Troy Brouwer, who with 19 goals in 47 games, scored at a 33-goal pace per 82 games, by far his career best. This year's candidate is Joel Ward, who notched his tenth goal of the season against Florida last Friday. He is on a pace for 25 goals, which would be a career best and more than he recorded in his previous three seasons combined (24).

-- An odd and obscure fact. Alexander Urbom has not dressed since November 29th, yet he still is sixth in games played for the Caps on defense (20). Four different defensemen have been inserted into the lineup since who have fewer games - Tyson Strachan (now in Hershey), John Erskine (just back from injury), Dmitry Orlov (promoted from Hershey) and Patrick Wey (promoted from, then reassigned to Hershey). Those four defensemen have a combined 25 games played through Sunday.

-- We make a point from time to time that the Caps give up a lot of shots. They do - second-most in the league with 35.1 per game. We wondered if there wasn't some scoring effect going on here. You know, a team gets a lead, sits back, lets the other team heave up shots from long range in a desperate attempt to get back into the game. Oh, yeah...that's what the Caps have been lately, that other, desperate team. But back to the point. What about those "5-on-5 close" situations, game situations where the score is tied in any period or within one goal in the first or second periods? Do the Caps do better in terms of shots allowed or shot differential there? Nope. Through Monday's games, the Caps rank 27th in shots allowed per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 close time (32.9) and 27th in shot differential (-5.3 per game).

-- The Caps are 11-6-2 when scoring a power play goal, 7-7-1 when they do not. They are 7-1-1 when scoring a power play goal and not allowing one to their opponent.

-- Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have scored goals in the same game four times this season. The Caps are 4-0-0 in those games. If you're thinking about a sure things, there isn't one for the Caps, at least not among players who have scored goals in more than two games, but Troy Brouwer has goals in six games for the Caps, and they are 5-1-0 in those games.

-- Alex Ovechkin has 3,217 shots on goal for his career. That is 63rd all-time in the NHL (ninth among active players). If he continues at his average per-game shot pace for this season, he could be in the top-50 all time by year's end (top-five among active players).

-- It's a pretty good thing that the Caps have a team .922 save percentage at 5-on-5. That ranks 18th in the league. It would be better if the Caps had better than a .914 save percentage in 5-on-5 close situations (24th in the league).

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