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The Noon Number: A Major Minor Concern

A look at a troubling trend heading into tonight’s game

Washington Capitals v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

27 - Number of times the Caps have gone shorthanded in the last five games, with at least four penalties per game over that span. In two of those five games they topped six or more times shorthanded, including a season-high nine against the Devils on New Year’s Eve - tied for the second-most penalties they’ve taken in a single game over the last decade.

The last time they had such an undisciplined stretch was almost two years ago, a five-game run from January 16-28, 2015 in which they were shorthanded 24 times (4, 5, 6, 5 and 4). The last time they topped 27 penalties in five games? That goes back to December 23, 2014 through January 4, 2015 (7, 4, 7, 6 and 5).

Kicking that kind of habit is crucial under any circumstances, but it’s especially important heading into tonight’s game against the Blue Jackets. As we noted yesterday, the Caps’ penalty killers have been excellent of late (and in general)... but they’ll be facing a power play that is connecting at an historic rate, and there’s just no need to play with that kind of fire.