Starting this week we will be doing a new weekly segment that focuses on three thoughts/topics surrounding the Capitals. The hope is that this post will turn into a sort of weekly discussion thread focused around the three thoughts outlined below. Ideally some of the best reasoned comments from all of you would be posted in the article the following week. So without further ado here are your first three thoughts.
1. On His Way to Being The Best Goal-Scorer Ever
On Sunday night Alex Ovechkin became the first player ever to score his 500th goal having only worn a Capitals sweater. Currently there are 18 players that have ever scored more era-adjusted-goals than Ovi but none of them have averaged as many era-adjusted-goals per game as he has.
By the end of his career it's not only possible but probable that Ovechkin's goal output will decrease and he probably won't end up with the highest era-adjusted-goals per game for all of the players on this list as you see it here today; but if we apply the same criteria to create this list moving forward (more era-adjusted goals than Ovi) he very well could remain at the top.
Writer's Note: Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post compared Ovechkin to Gretzky here
2. The Capitals are Possessing the Puck Again
The Capitals started the season as one of the best puck-possession team's in the league but since the middle of November they have been heavily relying on elite goaltending and timely scoring. Well ,at long last, the team's play appears to be catching up to their results.
The team's 5-game rolling score-adjusted Corsi-For percentage bottomed out around 45% in mid-December and has been climbing rather steadily since. Interestingly enough this upswing appears to be driven primarily by an increase in attempts-for.
The Capitals have enough talent both up-front and between the pipes to win lots of games while playing higher-paced hockey, well higher paced relative to how they were playing to start the year. The Capitals still have the 13th lowest Corsi-pace in the league. You can debate among yourselves as to whether the team is best served to play a low event style or a high paced one but we all can agree that the increase in SACF% is encouraging.
3. Carlson who?
Correlation doesn't imply causation and he's certainly one-of ,if not the, best defenseman on the team... but, in the eight games that John Carlson has missed due to injury the Capitals been doing just fine (6-1-1). The team has won the possession battle in 7 of 8, have an aggregate SACF% of 54.6, and haven't missed a beat on the power play (8 goals in 8 games).
Carlson is a huge part of this team, and he should/needs to be a big contributor for the team to be successful come April, but despite his strong boxcar numbers it truly hasn't been a great year for him defensively. The Capitals yield a higher rate of both shot attempts and scoring chances when Carlson is on the ice than they do with any other defenseman. Hopefully Carlson's injury has given him a chance to work closely with the team's coaching staff to identify some areas of his defensive game that haven't quite been as strong this year as they were last; we've all seen what he's capable of and it's a lot more than what we've seen from him so far this year.