The Capitals’ 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins was their 41st game of the season. The halfway point.
Let’s take a quick moment, without any pomp or heavy opinions (except GIFs), to appreciate where the Caps are right now.
The Capitals currently sit 8th in the Eastern Conference, essentially tied with Pittsburgh.
They are second in Southeast Division, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and four behind the Florida Panthers. The bright side is that the Caps have played one game fewer than those teams. Still, the Caps are battling for standing in the division that used to be their feeding ground.
As Neil Greenberg pointed out on the Post Tuesday, the Caps’ home record is 5th best in the league. Their road record is 24th.
When they hit the road, the Caps fall 23 spots in special teams ranking. They are elite in Verizon Center when cheered on by you. They are meek anywhere else.
And don’t let the ranking of the overall PK scare you; this is a very dense field. Only 3% separates the Capitals from 8th place. One bad night can send a team down several spots. Boston, in their infinite awesomeness, leads the NHL with a PK north of 91%.
Home games: 20
Road games: 21
Games vs playoff teams: 22
The Caps do not have an easy finish. They’ll be running into clusters of tough games– on the road. There’s a bunch against Division leaders like Florida, Boston, and New York, plus a back-to-back with Detroit and Chicago after St. Patrick’s Day.
Before shutting out Pittsburgh, the Caps’ 120 goals against had earned them 23rd place ranking. By plugging up their leaky net for one night, the Caps jumped up six spots in a dense field. On the other end of the ice, Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Troy Brouwer own 41 of the Caps’ goals, or about 35% of their output.
These percentages represent the sum of non-blocked pucks directed at the net. When the score is close, the Capitals have a modest tilt in their favor. But when the Capitals are down, they just aren’t shooting enough to change the course of the game. When the Capitals have a good lead, they sit back more than almost any other team in the league (Minnesota’s trap is 30th). [Source: Behindthenet.ca]
Alex Ovechkin has a tough path ahead of him to hit 30 goals. Those who expected him to hit 50 were quixotic, but those who expected him to hit 30 have a right to be disappointed. [Source: Neil Greenberg, 1/5/2012]
Dmitry Orlov is a very, very young player. He’s styled as a Mike Green-type defenseman, but he hasn’t shot enough to prove it yet. He’s got time. [Source: Neil Greenberg, 1/5/2012]
Semin has not committed a major penalty, but he is only five penalty minutes behind the team PIM leader/tough guy, Matt Hendricks. He is on track for 20 goals (assuming he stays healthy), which would lead to a payment of about $335,000 a goal.
It’s easy to convince someone that Mike Green is a great hockey player, as long as you first convince them that he actually is a hockey player. We all wish Mike the best, but knowing that upon his return he will be immediately targeted for hits is worrying.
It’s hard to bundle up a stat to tell the story of John Carlson and Karl Alzner. They began the season as team’s best defensive pairing, but have become liabilities recently. Neil does a good job telling the story with this chart, plotting the pair’s precipitous decline.
Vokoun is recovering his goalie stardom, now floating just .02 under his lifetime average save percentage. And yes, the goals against count was included just to use this Paramore gif.
There are 41 games and 82 points remaining in this season. The playoffs are possible, but not certain. Given the team’s woeful performance away from D.C., will George McPhee hazard the road with his current roster? Or are the Washington Capitals about to undergo their largest upheaval since the lockout?
Careers are on the line.
That surfing Pikachu image is from brotherbrain.