Week 2 left something to be desired, but it was a week featuring a trio of playoff teams from last season. Week 3 is a lighter schedule, both in terms of the number of games to be played (two) and the quality of opponents.
The Capitals are entering a portion of their schedule in which they need to make hay while the sun of weaker opponents shines. First up for the Caps is the New York Rangers, who the Caps will face at Capital One Arena while playing on their third consecutive Wednesday to start a week. The Rangers were not thought by many to have much chance of challenging for a playoff spot this season. So far, they have disappointed no one who made such a prediction.
The Blueshirts are 1-4-0 through their first two weeks of play, last in the Metropolitan Division and 29th in the league standings. They did manage to beat the powerhouse San Jose Sharks, but this is also a team that allowed Carolina to ravage them for eight goals. To their credit, that was the only game in which they allowed more than three goals. But it is not a team that has scared anyone with their offense yet, the Rangers averaging only 2.40 goals per game (23rd in the league after Week 2).
The Caps will wrap up their light Week 3 workload when they host the Florida Panthers on Friday, breaking up the back-to-back games that were part of Weeks 1 and 2. Through two weeks, only the New Jersey Devils played fewer games (two) than the Panthers. Nevertheless, Florida was one of just two teams without a win (Detroit being the other). They have been right on the cusp of winning, though, dropping all three of their games in the first two weeks by one goal, one of those games decided in overtime, a 2-1 Gimmick loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the season opener. Florida is a team that plays the Caps tough, winning two of three meetings last season, including a 4-1 win in their only visit to Washington last October 21st.
- Evgeny Kuznetsov finished Week 2 tied for tenth in goals (four) ninth in overall scoring (nine points). He is shooting at a 23.5 percent pace, tied for 23rd in the league (with Dallas’ Jamie Benn; minimum: 10 shots on goal) and ahead of more well-known goal scorers such as Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (23.1 percent) and Artemi Panarin (20.0 percent), not to mention teammate Alex Ovechkin (21.1 percent). He is tied for the league lead in power play goals through two weeks (four, with Toronto’s Auston Matthews).
- Nicklas Backstrom is tied for second in power play scoring (with teammate Kuznetsov and three other players), going 1-4-5 through two weeks and trailing only Toronto’s Morgan Rielly (0-6-6).
- John Carlson finished the first two weeks of the season tied for third in scoring among defenseman (2-4-6, with Ottawa’s Maxime Lajoie and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang), trailing Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot (2-6-8) and Rielly (3-10-13).
- Andre Burakovsky is still looking for his first point of the season. No Capital has played in as many games without recording one. It is the longest he has gone without a point to start a season in his career.
- Lars Eller is a team worst minus-6 through two weeks. He has been on ice for ten goals against, more than any other forward for the team. He finished Week 2 tied for the league lead, so to speak, in goals against on ice with Ottawa’s Mark Stone and Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist.
- Devante Smith-Pelly has one point in five games and is averaging only 10:36 in ice time.
- Kuznetsov has more power play goals (four) than the rest of the Caps combined (three)
- Only one Capital had a faceoff winning percentage over 50 percent through two weeks. Andre Burakovsky won 100 percent of his draws… ok, he won the only faceoff he took.
- Only two forwards in the league had more blocked shots that T.J. Oshie (eight, tied with four other players). Buffalo’s Patrik Bergland had nine, and Ottawa’s Tom Pyatt had 11.
Potential Milestones In Reach This Week:
- Nicklas Backstrom inched closer to the 600 assist mark for his career in Week 2. He needs four to get there.
- With a power play goal, Backstrom would tie Dave Christian for sixth place all time in team power play goal scoring. He needs three to tie Mike Ridley for fifth place.
- Backstrom is the only Capital in team history with 600 credited takeaways. Ovechkin can join him if he gets two more.
- John Carlson’s next power play assist will be the 100th of his career.
- Jakub Vrana will appear in his 100th NHL game on Wednesday against the Rangers.
- When Braden Holtby takes the ice against New York on Wednesday, he will pass Manny Legace for 125th place in games played by a goalie in league history. They are currently tied with 365 games. Holtby will tie Peter Budaj for 124th place (366), unless Budaj plays for the Los Angeles Kings.
- If Holtby wins a game this week, he will pass Dwayne Roloson and Gerry Cheevers for 67th place in all time goalie wins. The three are currently tied with 227 wins.
- If he gets a shutout this week, Holtby will pass former Caps goalie Jose Theodore and former Caps goalie coach Arturs Irbe on the all-time list. The three are tied for 59th place with 33 shutouts apiece.