Sittin' at the End of the (Capitals) Bar

Bruce Bennett

Peerless has a whole new batch of odd facts and numbers with which to impress your fellow bar patrons.

Going into last night's game against San Jose, it was a little known fact...

-- Starts in the new calendar year have not been so great for the Caps during this playoff era. Their five-game record to start the new year...

  • 2014: 2-1-2
  • 2013 (January 19 start): 1-3-1
  • 2012: 3-2-0
  • 2011: 2-1-2
  • 2010: 3-2-0
  • 2009: 3-2-0
  • 2008: 3-2-0

-- As goes the power play, so goes the Caps. In games this season in which the Caps record at least one power play goal they were 14-8-2 in games in which they had at least one power play goal, 8-8-5 in games in which they were blanked with the man advantage.

-- Opportunities on the power play might be more meaningful. When the Caps get four or more power play opportunities they are 13-9-1; they are 9-7-6 when they get three or fewer chances.

-- The Caps went eight straight games without allowing a power play goal from October 14th through November 1st. Take those eight games away, and the Caps have allowed power play goals in 23 of 37 games. In those 23 games the Caps are 9-9-5, but five of the wins came in the freestyle competition. Only six times this season (in 22 instances) have the Caps faced four or more shorthanded situations in a game and killed off all of them.

-- The Caps have the lowest ratio in the league of 5-on-5 goals to 5-on-4 goals (2.00:1 on 80 5-on-5 goals and 40 5-on-4 goals). Sure, the Caps have a fine power play, but so does St. Louis (third in the league), and their ratio is 3.24:1. The Caps have not (yet) been a very effective 5-on-5 offense (80 goals; 17th in the league), and they are leaving standings points on the table because of it. If they had as many 5-on-5 goals as, say, Winnipeg (91, tied for 6th in the league with three other teams) and had them judiciously distributed (that is, if they were consistent), there could be an additional 6-10 standings points that the Caps might have earned.

-- How much churn has there been on the Caps' blue line so far this season? Only four of the 12 defensemen to have dressed for the Caps have appeared in 30 or more games, and one of those - Steve Oleksy - has been a healthy scratch for the last three games. Four of the defensemen to dress for the Caps are rookies: Nate Schmidt, Connor Carrick, Patrick Wey, and the since departed Alexander Urbom.

-- The Capitals are one of five teams with three goaltenders appearing for at least 450 minutes in ice time. Carolina, Florida, Los Angeles, and Nashville are the others.

-- Among goalies playing in more than 10 games (through Monday), Philipp Grubauer is tied for ninth in save percentage at even strength (.933, with Colorado's Semyon Varlamov and Phoenix' Thomas Greiss). He is second in ES save percentage among rookie goaltenders to Los Angeles' Martin Jones (10 games minimum).

-- So far this season 90 rookie forwards have dressed for NHL games. Of that group, Tom Wilson ranks 79th in ice time per game (7:00). He ranks next to last among forwards having played in at least 25 games (Edmonton's Luke Gazdic averages 5:41).

-- Possession has been an issue for the Capitals for just about the entire season. The subtext to that is "consistency." However, they might be turning a corner. The Caps took a seven-game streak into last night's contest with San Jose in which they had a Corsi-for percentage in 5-on-5 close situations of better than 50 percent. Oddly enough, however, the Caps were 2-2-3 in those games. It is their second such seven-game streak of the season, the last one coming November 23 - December 8. The Caps were 4-2-1 in that streak.

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