Sittin' at the End of the (Capitals) Bar

Patrick Smith

As the men's ice hockey portion of the Games is about to get underway, Peerless has some nuggets about the Capitals grounded both here in Washington and in Sochi.

It is a little known fact...

-- Heading into the Olympic break the Caps had a four-game week in which they went 3-1-0. It was their sixth Sunday-Saturday four-game week of the season. They did not sweep any of them, but they did go winless in two of them - December 29-January 4 and January 12-17. In both instances the Caps were 0-2-2 for the week. The last four-game week that the Caps swept was their last one in the 2012-2013 season when they sandwiched wins over Tampa Bay around wins against Montreal and Carolina, April 7-13, 2013.

-- 2014 has not been good to the Caps' power play. Since January 1st they are 10-for-70 (14.3 percent) after going 37-for-147 (25.2 percent) in the 2013 portion of the season. Those ten goals are distributed among: Alex Ovechkin (3), Marcus Johansson (2), Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, John Carlson, Mikhail Grabovski, and Jason Chimera.

-- Conspicuous by his absence on the preceding list is Mike Green, who does not have a power play goal in his last 16 games dating back to December 27th. Even so, only one defenseman since 2008-2009 has more power play goals than the 42 that Green has - Nashville's Shea Weber (45), and Green has done it in more than 100 fewer games (310) than Weber (423).

-- And, speaking of Marcus Johansson, he does not have more than one shot in a game in his last nine contests, although he does have single shots recorded in his last four games after going four straight without one. In case you are wondering, that power play goal is the last goal he scored, back on January 9th in a 4-3 win in Tampa Bay against the Lightning.

-- Oh, and about Troy Brouwer. Maybe he's not too happy about this whole Olympic break thing. He went into the break with four goals in his last four games, the first time he did it this season and the first time he had "four in four" since turning the trick April 13-20 last season. That was the wrap-up of a six-goals-in-five-games stretch for Brouwer.

-- Nicklas Backstrom is another Cap who might not be too keen on the break, unless his recent good fortune translates well back into Swedish. Backstrom had six assists in his last five games heading into the Olympic break. It was a welcome burst after he went through a ten-game stretch in which he was 0-2-2, minus-6.

-- When John Carlson headed off to Sochi to represent the United States in men's hockey, we're thinking he might have slept the whole flight over. Over his last six games he averaged 28:12 in ice time, more than three minutes a night more than his season average (24:47).

-- In case you were wondering, when Martin Erat scored an empty net goal against New Jersey on Saturday, he vaulted into a tie for 27th place in the league in empty net goals (1). Interesting company he keeps there, too... Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Sharp, Evgeni Malkin, Martin St. Louis, Chris Kunitz, Henrik Zetterberg, Anze Kopitar, T.J. Oshie...seeing a theme here? BUM bum-buh BUM bum...

-- 2014 marks the first time in 20 years that a Washington Capitals goalie is not participating in the Winter Olympics. In 2010, Semyon Varlamov was named to the Russian Olympic team; in 1998, 2002, and 2006 Olaf Kolzig was named to Germany's roster in the Winter Games. Varlamov represents Russia once more, but as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

-- You might think that five Capitals representing their respective countries in the Sochi Olympic Games makes the 2014 contingent the largest to represent the Caps in the Winter Olympics since the NHL started sending players to the Games. Close, but not quite. In 2002 the Caps had six representatives: Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic, Olaf Kolzig representing Germany, Andrei Nikolishin and Sergei Gonchar representing Russia, Ulf Dahlen from Sweden, and Dmitri Khristich representing Ukraine.

-- It is a diverse group, though. With four countries represented by the five Capitals skating in Sochi, it is among most diverse group of Olympic participants in team history, second only to that 2002 contingent. Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson represent Sweden, while Alex Ovechkin will represent Russia, Martin Erat the Czech Republic, and John Carlson the United States. The Caps also had five representatives to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but they represented a total of three countries. Ovechkin, Varlamov, and Alexander Semin represented Russia; Tomas Fleischmann represented the Czech Republic, and Backstrom represented Sweden.

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