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Sittin' at the End of the (Capitals) Bar

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.

Photo by Clyde Caplan/

[Ed. Note: Please welcome to the Rink our newest contributor (who really needs no introduction), the inimitable Peerless Prognosticator.]

It's a little known fact...

-- Over his last 42 games, Alex Ovechkin has 40 goals. Let us leave aside the idea that this is a 78-goal pace over 82 games. At least as impressive is how he has lapped the field of his well-known competition among elite players. Comparing Ovechkin to the other players who, through Sunday's games, scored at least 30 goals over the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons (and, for good measure, Sidney Crosby), we had the following 42-game goal-scoring results through Sunday's games:

  • Alex Ovechkin - 40
  • Steven Stamkos - 26
  • Phil Kessel - 23
  • Jonathan Toews - 22
  • Patrick Kane - 20
  • John Tavares - 20
  • Sidney Crosby - 18
  • Jeff Carter - 17
  • Chris Kunitz - 14

-- When you look at power play goals, the results are even more striking over these players‘ respective last 42 games through this past Sunday:

  • Ovechkin - 17
  • Stamkos - 7
  • Kane - 6
  • Carter - 6
  • Kessel - 6
  • Crosby - 5
  • Kunitz - 4
  • Tavares - 3
  • Toews - 2

-- Lost in the Ovi-Goal-o-Mania is what Mikhail Grabovski is doing. After a big debut (3-2-5 in his first two games with the Caps), he had a bit of a slump, going 0-1-1 over his next six games. However, over his last 13 games he is 4-8-12. Even with the slump he is on a 16-43-59 scoring pace through 21 games.

-- Then there is Nicklas Backstrom. Over the last two seasons, no player - no, not even Sidney Crosby - has as many assists as does Backstrom (59) through Sunday's games (yes, Crosby has played in fewer games). And, starting with a four-assist game against Carolina last April 2nd, Backstrom has 34 assists in 34 games.

-- Speaking of helpers, while Backstrom is like a metronome with his performance, another Capital is surprising with his efficiency. Looking at forwards having played in at least ten games thus far (through Monday's games), Marcus Johansson holds the top spot in primary assists/60 minutes at five-on-five. It might be worth noting that the player sitting in second place in that measure is former Capital Mathieu Perreault.

-- Speaking of Johansson, he has eight power play points through Sunday's games. That might not seem like a lot, but it was tied for 16th among all skaters. He was tied with the likes of Henrik Sedin and Zach Parise, and he had more points than Henrik Zetterberg, Joe Thornton, and Erik Karlsson.

-- Don't look now...ok, go ahead and look... but John Carlson has points in three straight games, four of five, and six of his last eight contests. Over those eight games he is 5-2-7. Overall he has a rather respectable 1.26 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. If you need a benchmark to compare that to among defensemen, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues has 1.29 points per 60 minutes and Montreal's P.K. Subban 1.20.

-- One of the subtle and underappreciated skills is an ability to draw penalties while not being drawn into them yourself. You might expect Alex Ovechkin to be such a player, and in fact he is, with 1.3 penalties drawn per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 compared to 0.4 taken. But would you expect Joel Ward to be in the same ball park? He draws 1.2 penalties per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 while taking 0.7.

-- After posting 46 saves against St. Louis on Sunday evening, Braden Holtby has a career record of 4-0-0 in regular season games in which he records 40 or more saves, including two such games this season. He has a 1.72 goals against average and a .961 save percentage to go with that win-loss record. In three of those games he allowed only one goal.

-- Be really careful how you look at that PDO statistic. When looking at 5-on-5 shooting percentages plus save percentages, you might expect to find Nicklas Backstrom and Mikhail Grabovski among the team's leading forwards. They are, being first and second with 1046 and 1044, respectively. While one must always keep regression effects in the back of one's mind that could pull them back to the 1000 level, these are players relied upon to contribute offensively, and they play responsibly in their own end of the ice. What do we make of Troy Brouwer being third among Caps forwards, though? He has one even strength point for the season, yet his 5-on-5 PDO is 1033. Surely it is not a product of his offense, or that of his line, in fact. However, the .957 save percentage by Caps goalies when he is on the ice at 5-on-5 is second best on the team among forwards playing in at least ten games. Maybe he'll get votes for the Selke Trophy.

Well, let's save that discussion for another day.

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