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Wednesday Roundup

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One thing that good teams do is they win close games. Not surprisingly, eight of the top nine teams in winning percentage in one-goal games last year made the playoffs (flying in the face of this theory, however, is the fact that last year's Senators won only ten of 32 one-goal games and yet managed to play in the very last game of the playoffs. Huh).

The Caps, as you know (intuitively, at least), were dead last in the League in that stat last season (don't forget, every shootout loss is a one-goal loss). And, unfortunately, they're off to a rough start in that category again this season, losing three of their four one-goal games so far.

But let's take a deeper look at the Caps' play in close games, or, more accurately, at the Caps' play when the games have been close.

Through 11 games (660 minutes of hockey), the Caps have been tied for just over 167 minutes of game time (167:06, to be exact). Ten times, the Caps have scored the game's next goal, while their opponents have broken the tie 11 times. Seven of the Caps' tie-breakers have come in the first period (five have opened a game's scoring), two have come in the second and one has been in the game's final stanza (that first Isles game).

With those (and other) one goal leads, the Caps have played 94:57 of hockey in which the next goal would either serve as a bit of insurance or send things back to square one. Six times (twice in each period) the Caps have extended their margin to two, five times they've allowed their opponents to tie the game, and one time they held on for a one-goal win (that first Isles game again).

And what about their play when down a goal? In 146:28, the Caps have managed to score the tying goal five times, have fallen behind by a pair seven times, and seen the game end down that single goal three times. Of those five game-tying goals, only one has come in the third period (Flash's goal in the second Isles game), and overall, when down a goal in the third, the Caps have scored once and not scored six times. As a result, they're 0-6-0 when trailing after two periods.

So what do these numbers tell us? First, that when games are close (within a goal or less), the Caps have done their job (scoring or preventing a tying goal) 22 times and failed (to take the lead or tie the game) 26 times overall. That's pretty much a wash. But the team needs to start coming through in the clutch - only three times all season so far when the game was tied or within one goal in the third have the Caps scored with an opposing goalie in the net.

Second, the Caps are scoring once every 29:18 while down a goal, nearly twice the 15:49 it's taking them on average to score with a one-goal lead - perhaps a function, in part, of teams tightening up with a lead (versus taking chances when down a goal), but the Caps are scoring once every 16:43 in tied games, so there may be other factors at work as well (such as team and individual confidence, motivation, etc.). Or it could all be dumb luck.

I'll leave you (if you're still with me) with one last stat: the Caps are tied for first in the League with a 100% winning percentage in games they've lead after three periods. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Elias Sports Bureau.

H/t to Earl over at BoC for the inspiration for this post.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks (and Beyond):

Apparently no Caps are among the League's most overrated players.... More weekly rankings are out, with the Caps at 22nd, 22nd and 21st.... One big win in a hockey-crazed city has the natives asking, "Are the Caps for real?"... Finally, since it's Halloween, I thought I'd let you guys in on my simple strategy for not having to deal with kids or buying candy while at the same time not getting your house egged for being the jerk who's not handing out treats. It's brilliant in its simplicity, really. You just put a huge empty bowl out by your front door with a sign that reads "Please take only one... or two [insert name of most popular/expensive candy]" and pretend to not be home. The result is that kids will think that it was some other little bastard's greed that has left them staring at an empty bowl, thereby sparing your reputation, sanity and siding for another year.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Sidney Crosby (G, 3A, +3, 4 SOG, 3 hits, 1 takeaway, 0 giveaways, 1 blocked shot, 68% faceoffs won)
  • Ross: Sidney Crosby (4 points)
  • Norris: Sergei Gonchar (2A, 3 SOG)
  • Vezina: Miikka Kiprusoff (W, 39 saves on 40 shots against)
  • Richard: Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla (2G each)
  • Calder: Carey Price (31 saves on 33 shots against in shootout loss)
  • Aiken: Chris Mason (L, 5 goals allowed on 33 shots against)