The Capitals Lead the NHL in the Power Play and Penalty Kill

Marcus Johansson - Patrick McDermott

Even Marcus can score on the power play! (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

The Capitals are not particularly strong at even strength. They rank in the bottom five in puck possession when the score is close. But you take a dude or two off the ice from either team and— well, look out.

As of Wednesday morning, the Capitals have the #1 power play and the #1 penalty kill in the league.

The Capitals have not allowed a goal in 91.5% of their penalties. That includes a streak of 35 consecutive kills snapped on Saturday (thanks, Flash).


And after their four powerplay goals against the Islanders on Tuesday, the Caps are now also the best powerplay team in the league— converting on 27.9% of their chances. Alex Ovechkin has scored 6 of his 12 goals while up a man.


Those percentages are compelling, but they don’t tell you the whole story.

They Caps aren’t just getting lucky on the man-advantage; they’re burying goalies in pucks. Washington is second in the league in shot attempts while on the power play. (San Jose must be cheating.) That suggests that the Caps’ 5v4 success will continue.

The Caps aren’t quite as strict when it comes to limiting shots when they’re on the kill. They rank 23rd out of 30 in shot attempts against on the PK, but thanks to the combined .970 penalty-kill save percentage from Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, few of those shots are hitting the net. The Caps defense will have to bear down a bit if they want to continue dominating the PK.

For now, it feels good to be on top.

  • JenniferH

    But you take a dude or two off the ice from either team and— well, look out. — This so legit made me laugh out loud. And it still makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. I even add my own exclamation point (!) when I get to the “look out!” part.

    Hey, you know, with as much referee shenanigans as we seem to face, I’m glad we’re kicking arse in the PK-department! 😀 The PP-swimming along (even if the San Jose-ians are cheating us somehow of #1 in PP shot attempts) is a lovely, lovely bonus.

  • Barry

    I know this won’t last forever, but until then…suck it [insert rival team name]!

  • VeggieTart

    Our power play was lethal last night. Damn. I think last night Adam Oates threw Wilson out there as a “what the heck, we’re up three goals, let’s see what the kid can do” type thing. You think he’ll be on one of the PP units from now on?

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    Was at the game last night – we looked great on offense and the PK/PP but our even strength, particularly D, we still have a lot of room to improve. More importantly though…where the HE-double hockey sticks has ‘Unleash the Fury’ gone?!?! No show again.

  • Pat D’Pirate

    I think Ovi had a Gretzky moment last night with Wilson. By that I mean when Gretsky was a kid playing peewees, there was one kid on his team that hadn’t scored a goal all year. So one game, Gretzky told the kid to get to the front of the net and keep his stick down and he’d do the the rest. He ended up helping the kid score two goals that day. I’m sure many of you probably have heard that story from somewhere else before and maybe it wasn’t planned like that last night. All I’m saying is Ovi’s pass to Wilson reminded me of that story and is a pretty good theory about how it all went down last night.

  • jp_daddi0

    That sounds like when Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez tells Smalls to stand in the outfield and hold up his glove.

  • BaconSkittles

    Spitting on the ball for JUST the right amount of pop. Kid was doing that at 12 and still couldn’t crack the starting line-up in the Bigs.

  • josh

    they only play it when it’s a close game/losing.

  • Steven Lemmeyer

    Yeah I figured that but I’ve been to a few where that wasn’t even the case (this is going back to last season) — that should be played at every home game or they need to change there other videos; the coach motivation one blows monkey chunks.

  • Danny Neckel

    Are the Caps relying too
    much on the power play and penalty killing? Check out this article:

  • Good point, and well put. Something to consider: rating what % of points a team takes from PP has a couple of component parts: 5v5 points, 5v4 opportunities, 5v4%. A team with a great PP might not be high on your list if they a) don’t get PPs or b) score a lot at 5v5. The Caps, right now at least, mostly suck at 5v5 and are excellent at scoring on PP and are getting a surprising amount of them considering their possession.

    So yes, they’re definitely relying too much on PP, but we shouldn’t interpret that to mean much except that 5v5 needs to get better.

    Thanks for writing and posting here!