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Sittin' at the End of the (Capitals) Bar

Peerless is at the end of the Capitals' bar holding forth on the state of Washington's special teams and their relationships to wins and losses so far this season.

Patrick Smith

It's a little known fact...

-- The Washington Capitals scored two power play goals last night, the first time they've done that since Mikhail Grabovski and Marcus Johansson scored power play goals in a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning back on January 9th.

-- The Caps do pretty well when they score two power play goals in a game. In fact, they are 6-1-1 this season when they record a pair on the man advantage.

-- They're pretty good when they score three or more power plays in a game, too. Washington is 3-1-0 in such games. The last time they did it was on December 20th when they beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2. The only time they lost in a game in which they scored three or more power play goals was on Opening Night. The Caps were 3-for-6, but they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, 6-4.

-- Scoring a power play goal is not necessarily a guarantee of winning, though. So far this season the Caps scored one power play goal in 14 games. Surprisingly, they are just 6-7-1 in those games.

-- Of course, not scoring a power play is, for this team, a recipe for unhappy endings. The Caps are 9-12-6 when they fail to convert on any of their man advantages.

-- Home and road are very different animals when it comes to the power play. At home, the Caps are 10-4-0 when they get at least one power play goal, but they are only 4-5-4 when they are shut out on the man advantage.

-- On the road, it does not seem to matter as much whether the Caps do or do not score a power play goal. Washington is 5-5-2 when they do, 5-7-2 when they do not.

-- How about the other side of the ledger, when they give up or prevent power play goals? Not allowing a power play goal is, to the surprise of no one, a good thing. Washington is 14-8-3 in games in which they do not allow a power play goal.

-- Things get rather dicey after that, though. When allowing a power play goal, the Caps are 10-13-5. That breaks down like this:

  • 1 PPG allowed: 8-9-3
  • 2 PPG allowed: 2-2-2
  • 3+ PPG allowed: 0-2-0

-- Those two games in which the Caps allowed three or more power play goals are especially interesting (or bile-inducing, depending on your tolerance for this sort of thing). In both instances - against Ottawa on November 27th and against Minnesota on January 4th - the Caps had two-goal leads in the first period. They lost both games, 6-4 to Ottawa and 5-3 to Minnesota.

-- What about special teams, generally? If the Caps are "perfect" in a game, that is, they score at least one power play goal and shutout the other team on their man advantage, how do the Caps do? They are 8-2-1 overall. When neither the power play nor penalty kill is perfect (they fail to score a power play goal and allow at least one), Washington is 3-6-4.

-- What about the home and road thing on the penalty kill? It seems to matter somewhat more than whether they do or do not score power play goals. When shutting out an opponent at Verizon Center on the power play the Caps are 7-2-1. They are only 7-7-3 when they do not. That the Caps would have allowed power play goals in 17 of 27 games at home is a disturbing fact.

-- On the road, the difference is similar, although it slides a bit more toward the losing side of the ledger consistent with the Caps record being worse on the road than at home. Washington is 7-6-2 when shutting out an opponent on the power play in their rink, 3-6-2 when they allow a power play goal (or more) on the road.

What it seems to mean is that scoring power play goals is not, by itself, particularly special in Capitals' outcomes. Scoring multiple power play goals is (9-2-0 when they do). On the other hand, allowing power play goals makes for difficult nights. The Caps are just 10-13-5 when they are less than perfect on the penalty kill.

When it comes to locale, if the Caps are at home, watch to see how effective the power play is. On the road, the penalty kill seems to matter more.