The Washington Capitals have had a pretty darn good regular season so far. With a second-consecutive 50-win campaign already under their belt and a President's Trophy in their sights, all eyes are on the playoffs.
And while the differences between regular season and playoff hockey are too many to mention, it doesn't stop the armchair pundits and big bucks bloviators from trying to use the first 82 games as a predictive tool of what will come next. With that in mind, here are a couple of notes on the season's 71 rolling seven-game stretches (chosen for obvious reasons) so far:
- Throw out games decided (won or lost) by shootouts and the Caps have won all seven games in a seven-game span seven times, six games another seven times, five games 18 times and four games 25 times. They've lost four-of-seven just four times (once at the end of March), and in each of those, they've had three wins. Add it up and that's 57-4 in regular season "best-of-sevens."
- In 25 seven-game spans, they've averaged four or more goals per game. In another 40, they've been at three or more. They've been below three just six times, bottoming out at 2.43 (which is more goals per game than the Bruins are averaging no the season).
- On the flip side of that coin, they've given up three or more goals over 25 seven-game sets, topping out at 3.86, but have been below three 46 times.
- Pulling those last two bullets together a bit, they've outscored their opponents over 67 seven-game spans and have been outscored three times (and by just .14 goals per game each time). For the seven-game stretch ending January 27, they'd outscored their opponents by 3.14 goals per game.
- The Caps' power play has converted better than 30% of its chances over a seven-game span 22 times (including a monstrous 50% span and four 40%+ stretches) and they've been above their League-best 25.6% mark for the season 35 times. Fourteen times they've been below 20%, including an 11.1% drought back in October.
- You know what's next: the penalty kill. On the plus side, 22 times they've gone seven games at better than an 82% PK efficiency (which would be good enough to be in the top half of the League in the metric on the season). On the other hand, they've been at or below the League's worst PK on the season (Toronto's 73.9%) 17 times, and below 80.5% (which would have them in the bottom-third of the League) 44 times.
- Overall on special teams, the Caps have outscored their opponents on the power play over a seven-game span 44 times (14 times by more than three) and been outscored 21 times (never by more than three). What's interesting is that they've had more power play opportunities than opponents 35 times and been outchanced the same number of times.
- On an individual level, Alex Ovechkin's best seven-game span? Nine goals (twice) and 16 points (twice). His worst? Two goals (eight times, including his last seven games) and five points. Nicklas Backstrom's best (12 assists; 17 points) and worst (one and one), Alexander Semin's best (six goals, six times; 14 points) and worst (one goal, seven times; three points), and Mike Green's best (four goals, four times; 11 points, three times) and worst (no goals, eight times; three points, three times) also merit mention.
- Finally, the goalies. Jose Theodore has won all seven games in a seven-appearance stretch five times this season. He's won six games five times, five games eight times and four games a dozen times, and has only lost four games in a seven-game span once all season. Of course, he's been bailed out a few times along the way, as he has posted a goals against avearage above 2.75 seventeen times in his 38 seven-appearance stretches (but has had eight spans of 2.50 or less), but he has had 19 spans with a save percentage above .910 and just eleven below .900. As for Semyon Varlamov, he has won six-of-seven twice, five games eight times and four games four times, and has yet to lose four games in any seven-game regular season stretch... in his career. His GAAs have been all over the map, with nine of his 18 seven-game spans below 2.30 (all pre-injury, of course) and five above 2.95. It's a similar story with his save percentages, six times below .900 and ten times above .910.
Those are a lot of numbers that really don't mean all that much once everyone's record is reset to 0-0 in a little over a week. But if there's one thing to pull from the above, it's that when this Caps team does hit a skid, it's usually very short-lived... even when it feels like an eternity for us fans.