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Snapshots of the Week Ahead: Week 15

The Caps have a three-game week in which they hope to get out of their recent run of disappointing performances

Winnipeg Jets v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals head into the second half of January with a three-game schedule in Week 15. They will be looking to reverse the trend in recent games of inconsistent and uninspired performances that have left them in third place in the Metropolitan Division as the week begins.

The Opponents

Winnipeg Jets (Tuesday/7:00pm – Capital One Arena)

The Caps and Jets will meet for the 95th time when Winnipeg comes to Washington on Tuesday night, more than any opponent the Jets have faced in their history. With a win over the Jets, the Caps would tie the Carolina Hurricanes for most wins against the Jets franchise in their history (Carolina with 53 wins).

Based on their recent record, the Jets will put up a fight. Winnipeg is 4-1-0 in their last five contests, although the loss was a doozy, a 7-1 pasting at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche on January 6th. Despite the recent success, the Jets have struggled this season in killing penalties. The Jets rank 31st in the league with a 71.1 percent penalty kill overall, 74.1 percent on the road (28th).

On the other side of the puck, the Jets have had their problems getting started in games, the 24 first period goals they ninth-fewest in the league, their ten first period goals in road games ranking in a tie for fourth-fewest in the league. The slow starts have turned around some in the new year, the Jets having scored first in three of four games so far in 2022, going 2-1-0 in them. What the Caps will have to contend with, once they get past the first period, is a team with a plus-8 goal differential in the second periods of games, although they are a minus-4 in second period goal differential on the road.

The Jets will face the Caps in the fifth game of an eight-game road trip on which they are currently 3-1-0. They allowed two or fewer goals in three of those games, all wins. It follows another five-game stretch that was a mirror image, the Jets going 1-3-1. There is also, in their current run, the 7-1 loss in Colorado to the Avalanche in which they allowed seven unanswered goals after opening the scoring.

The Caps are 52-28-9 (five ties) in their all-time series with Winnipeg, 31-9-3 (three ties) on home ice. Washington is 6-2-2 in their last ten games against the Jets.

Boston Bruins (Thursday/7:00pm – TD Garden)

The Caps will look for some payback against the team that inflicted arguably the worst game on home ice for the Caps this season, a 7-3 shellacking last week. The Boston Bruins will host the Caps on Thursday for the only time in the regular season. The Bruins have a good, not great record at home this season. At 12-6-1 they have the 11th-best record on home ice in the league in points percentage (.658). They have, however, posted a 5-1-0 record in their last six games at TD Garden, their current three-game home winning streak their longest since they opened this season with five wins on home ice.

They have been successful at home by winning the close ones, posting a 7-2-1 home record in one-goal games, three of the wins in extra time. That formula has been fueled, in part, by getting off to good starts. Boston has opened the scoring in 11 of 19 home games thus far, tied for the seventh-highest win total in such situations. And, they are 8-3-0 in those 11 games, their .727 points percentage tied for 13th in the league.

The Bruins have been solid in special teams on home ice, ranking in the top ten in both power play (25.9 percent/ninth) and penalty kill (86.2 percent/sixth). What has negated this performance, though, is the relative absence of power play chances, where their 3.05 chances per game rank 20th. They have also allowed 3.05 power plays per game to opponents at home, seventh-most in the league.

One area in which the Bruins have dominated on home ice is in shot differential. Their plus-9.4 shot differential per game on home ice is second in the league to Calgary (plus-10.6). They have posted 33 or more shots at TD Garden 16 times in 19 home games and 40 or more shots seven times. The Bruins are 6-1-0 when recording at least 40 shots on goal.

The Caps are 68-75-8 (21 ties) in their all-time series with Boston, 32-41-4 (nine ties) on the road. The Caps are 4-6-0 in their last ten games against the Bruins.

Ottawa Senators (Saturday/7:00pm – Capital One Arena)

Washington completes their two-game season series against Ottawa when the Senators come to town on Saturday. The Caps won the first meeting in Ottawa, 7-5, on October 25th. It remains the most goals allowed by Ottawa on home ice this season.

The Senators, while a team that seems on the rise, has had issues on defense. Their 3.59 goals per game allowed on the road is tied for seventh-most in the league, with Dallas. That situation is improving, though. In their first nine road games this season, Ottawa allowed 38 goals (4.22 per game), allowing four or more in six of those games while posting a 1-7-1 record. But over their last eight road games, they allowed only 23 goals (2.88 per game) and held opponents to two or fewer goals five times in that span.

Shots allowed is an issue that remains to be solved for the Senators defense. They have the fifth-highest shots allowed per game in the league this season on the road (35.0 per game) and have not allowed fewer than 30 shots in consecutive road games all season.

There are few teams worse on faceoffs on the road than the Caps – one, in fact (Buffalo, at 43.9 percent to 44.7 for the Caps) — but Ottawa is close at 45.0 percent, 30th in the league. One thing Caps fans would like to see the team take advantage of is the Senators’ 34.9 percent faceoff winning percentage in road penalty kills, second worst in the league, and defensive zone draws generally, where their 41.2 percent winning percentage ranks dead last in road contests.

This will be the 100th meeting of the Caps and Senators in their all-time series, the Caps with a record of 53-36-5 (five ties) to date, 30-13-2 (four ties) on home ice. Washington has won nine in a row overall against Ottawa and are 9-1-0 in their last ten games against the Senators.

Hot Caps:

  • Alex Ovechkin. In 20 home games this season, Ovechkin is 13-18-31, tied for first in the league in goals scored at home and second in points.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov is the other Capital averaging more than a point per game on home ice this season (9-17-26 in 19 games/1.37 points per game).
  • John Carlson. Of the ten defensemen to dress for the Caps so far this season, Carlson is the only one with ten or more points on home ice (6-11-17 in 20 games).

Cold Caps:

  • Brett Leason. In 14 home games to date, Leason has one point (a goal on 16 shots).
  • Vitek Vanecek. In his last three games at Capital One Arena, Vanecek finished the game under .900 in save percentage (.866 overall). That is six times in his last eight home games he was under .900.
  • Ilya Samsonov. Not to be outdone, Samsonov is under .900 in two of his last three home games and in five of 11 games overall played on home ice.

Weird Facts:

  • When the Caps shut out the Islanders on Saturday, it marked the first time since December 6th that they did not allow a second period goal, a 12-game streak allowing one broken. The last time the Caps went consecutive games without allowing a second period goal was November 28 and November 30 against Carolina and Florida. They failed to do that against Vancouver, allowing three second period goals in a 4-2 loss.
  • The next goal the Caps score against the Jets will be the 300th goal for Washington in the all-time series with Winnipeg.
  • Since the establishment of the shootout in the 2005-2006 season, the Caps and Senators have resorted to that only once in 52 games to settle a score, a 5-4 win in Ottawa on October 5, 2017, in what was the season opener of the 2017-2018 season for the Caps. Evgeny Kuznetsov had the game-deciding goal.

Potential Milestones to Reach This Week (or soon):

Alex Ovechkin

  • Needs one shorthanded goal to tie Gaetan Duchesne, Bobby Gould, Steve Konowlachuk, and Tom Wilson (six apiece) for 12th place in team history.
  • Needs one point to break a tie with Mike Modano (1,374) for 25th place all-time.
  • Needs three even strength goals to tie Marcel Dionne for fourth-place all time (Dionne with 478 ES goals).
  • Needs one power play point to tie Adam Oates (513) for 24th place all time.
  • Needs two game-winning goals to tie Gordie Howe (121) for second place all-time.
  • With one game-deciding goal in a shootout, Ovechkin will tie Kris Letang for tenth place all-time (currently 14).
  • With one empty net point, Ovechkin will break a tie with Joe Thornton and Blake Wheeler for fourth all-time (both with 58 empty net points); and would tie Eric Staal (59) for third place.
  • With one first goal in games, Ovechkin will tie Brett Hull (131) for second place all time behind Jaromir Jagr (135).

John Carlson

  • Needs one point to break a tie with Bengt-Ake Gustafsson for seventh place on the all-time franchise rankings (Gustafsson with 554 points); two points and he will tie Dale Hunter for sixth place.
  • Needs two power play goals to tie Dainius Zubrus (35) for 24th place on the all-time Caps list.
  • Needs one game-winning goal to tie Michal Pivonka and Evgeny Kuznetsov (27) for tenth place all-time for Washington; two game-winning goals and he will tie Alexander Semin for (28) ninth place; three and he will tie Dale Hunter and Kelly Miller (29) for seventh place.
  • With one even strength goal, Carlson would tie Sergei Gonchar for second place among defensemen in Caps history (Gonchar with 90 ESG).
  • With one overtime goal, Carlson will hold second place by himself among defensemen on the all-time franchise list (he has two).

Dmitry Orlov

  • Orlov’s next goal will be his 50th in the NHL and as a Capital (tenth on the all-time franchise list among defensemen).
  • Orlov’s next game-winning goal will be the 14th of his career and would tie him with Scott Stevens and Sylvain Cote on the all-time franchise list among defensemen.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

  • Needs one game-winning goal to pass Michal Pivonka (both with 27) for tenth place on the Caps’ all-time list and tie Alexander Semin for ninth place (28).
  • Needs one overtime goal to tie Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green for second place on the all-time Caps’ list (currently seven).

Tom Wilson

  • Needs three points for 250 in his career.
  • Needs one goal to break a tie with Marcus Johansson for 30th in team history (both with 102).
  • Needs one empty net goal to tie Peter Bondra for fifth on the all-time franchise list (Bondra with 11).

Lars Eller

  • Needs one penalty minute for 500 in his career.
  • Needs two penalty minutes to reach 200 PIMs as a Capital.

T.J. Oshie

  • Needs one empty net goal to tie Peter Bondra for fifth on the all-time franchise list (Bondra with 11).

Nick Jensen

  • Needs five penalty minutes for 100 in his career.