Last week we talked about the dominance of Alex Ovechkin, the team's rebounding possession stats and the ability of the defense to absorb the loss of John Carlson.
Let's dive right into this week's trio of thoughts...
1. The Return of Andre Burakovsky
When Brian MacLellan signed Justin Williams during the offseason, he envisioned a second line of Burakovsky, Kuznetsov, and Williams. It might have taken a while (nearly half of the season) but we've finally been able to see that trio together and the early results look promising.
Burakovsky's play has been steadily improving over the last couple of weeks and the points are starting to come. For the first extended stretch of the season he appears to be confident while in possession of the puck, and he has tallied seven points in his last five games.
Here is a visual overview of Burakovsky's season from Micah Blake McCurdy:
2. The Dehydration of Braden Holtby
During the Capitals triumph over the Rangers last Sunday, Braden Holtby was pulled for the second straight game. His removal on Saturday may have had something to do with his performance (although it's more likely that the issue was the performance of the team in front of him) but Sunday's hook was due to what was later reported as a bout of dehydration. There's a chance that playing early on Sunday simply didn't give Holtby the time he needed to properly prepare/hydrate for the game, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Holtby is starting to fatigue.
Holtby, 26, has played in 123 hockey games since the start of last season (including playoffs). It appears that's the highest total among all goaltenders with Ben Bishop trailing him by just a single game (keep in mind that Bishop played an additional two playoff rounds last season).
While it's probably nothing to be worried about, Holtby's dehydration scare might make a few Caps fans antsy about his upcoming appearance in this year's All-Star game. The new three-on-three format should be exciting for fans but it could put a lot of strain on the goaltenders.
3. Best of the Best
The Capitals have a five-point lead on Chicago for the best record in hockey while holding 3 games in hand. We talked a bit last week about how the Capitals possession numbers were improving; that trend has continued. As of the 19th, the Capitals have the ninth-best SACF% in the NHL (52%) and are only .2% behind the Blackhawks.
Here are the ten game rolling SACF% charts from War-On-Ice:
Barring a match-up in the Stanley Cup Final Washington will only play Chicago one more time this season on 2/28 at the United Center. Washington won the first meeting convincingly (4-1) back in the middle of October.
Here is last week's top comment, courtesy of Bugs Fire: