The Washington Capitals added depth on NHL Deadline Day, acquiring forwards Scott Walker and Eric Belanger, and blueliners Joe Corvo and Milan Jurcina, who returns to Washington after being traded, along with then team captain Chris Clark, to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Despite these moves paying off immediate dividends, questions remain about the Caps goaltending: specifically, is it enough to keep pucks out of the net in the playoffs?
“No matter how fearsome their attack, they’re just OK at keeping pucks out of their net. They’ll enter the playoffs, likely as the top seed in the East, entrusting the most critical position on the ice to the likes of Jose Theodore, Semyon Varlamov and/or Michal Neuvirth.” – NBCSports.com
So what type of goaltending does it take to win the Cup, and do the Caps have it?
If we look at the Stanley Cup winners over the last decade, some patterns emerge:
- As of 3/5/10, The Caps have a Goals Against per game (GA/Gm) of 2.84, which would be only the third worst of Cup Winning teams since 2000. 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins were at 2.91 and the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes were at 3.17.
- The 2010 Washington Capitals are scoring machines. Their 4.0 Goals For per game (GF/Gm) would lead all Cup winners since 2000. So while it is true they let goals in the net, they make up for it by burying the biscuit themselves.
- The expected winning percentage of the 2010 Caps would also be the second best of the Cup teams since 2000. Based on the Pythagorean winning percentage, The Caps are expected to have a win % .652 – despite giving up 2.84 goals per game. Only the 2008 Detroit Red Wings (.651) and the 2001 Colorado Avalanche (.653) come close.
Jose Theodore, who I believe has found a real life Hot Tub Time Machine, has shown he is capable of being close to the Jose of 2001-2 when he won the Hart & Vezina Trophies. Exhibit A is his goaltending during the Caps 14 game win streak.
Varlamov is coming back from injury, and his playoff experience from last year will only bolster his confidence going forward.
Caps’ fans should have a deeper concern: the PK:
Since 2000, no Cup winner has had a PK% less than 81.8% (2006 Carolina Hurricanes). 2010 Capitals are currently 78.91%.
But that’s an article for another day.