Last night the Washington Capitals eked out a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on the back of a last-minute (literally) Jay Beagle goal. Outshot 45 to 27, it felt like the Caps were increasingly under siege as the game progressed. And indeed they did forfeit a 2-goal lead, for the third time this season.
But the underlying numbers could’ve been worse. Here is the shot attempt chart at five on five (unadjusted.)
All power plays go through slumps over an 82-game season. When a slump happens at the start of the season, it’s a lot more noticeable because they’re the only numbers we see. This is the case with the Caps power play, who, with two goals on 19 opportunities, is currently 28th in the league.
We know this slump won’t last. There’s too much talent on this team for the slump to last. But just because the numbers are likely to go up and the sample size is small doesn’t mean there aren’t other things going on.
Last night the Washington Capitals lost their third game of the season, 4-1 to the Edmonton Oilers. Through the first two periods the game was mostly a sleepy affair, with neither team getting much going and the Oilers gaining a two-goal lead off of a couple of deflections. Despite an Alex Ovechkin goal to start off the third period (his fourth of the season), the Caps couldn’t catch up and ultimately allowed another pair, resulting in their first losing streak in a long time.
How did the battles within the game go? Well, considering the final score, it was mostly okay for the boys from Washington. Shot attempts at five-on-five ended up being exactly tied at 45-45. The Caps actually out-attempted the Oilers overall, 64-57.
We are six games into the season and the Caps are 3-2-1. But oh boy, after losing 4-1 Wednesday night to Edmonton you’d think this team was coming down the home stretch and in danger of missing the playoffs. Braden Holtby stated that the team was facing adversity while Matt Niskanen said the team was looking average. It’s not a bad thing that the team is recognizing parts of their game could get better.
But can all of us non-Caps players pump the brakes on being concerned about this team just yet? For one thing, it’s only six freaking games into the season, so regardless of how the Caps have played, it’s too early to make sweeping judgments about this team. And here’s the thing, they’ve actually played decently in the six games.
So, let’s all take a deep breath and talk about why, even when not accounting for sample size, there is no reason to be down on the Caps.
Opinions vary widely on Tom Wilson. Many fans around the league think he’s a dirty player while Caps fans forever debate whether he’s a bust or not. To all of this I have the following to say: who cares?
Today, our purpose here is not to make sweeping judgements for or against the Caps fourth line forward. We are also not going to compare Wilson to other first round picks and assess the judgement of selecting him in the first round.
Today, we are here to recognize Tom Wilson for being one of the Caps most trusted and effective penalty killers.
On Saturday night, the Caps finally lost their first game of the season in regulation. They lost, in part, because their penalty kill allowed a goal for the fourth time in five games and fell to 27th in the NHL in PK percentage.
After the game, Lars Eller said that, while there’s always room for improvement, he felt like the difference so far for the PK unit has been that they haven’t been getting the bounces. Here’s the thing: Eller’s right. So far, the Caps penalty kill hasn’t been allowing shots or scoring chances at an alarming rate, it’s just that pucks have been going in on a more regular basis, something that can happen in five game samples.
On Saturday night the Capitals suffered their first regulation loss of the season, by a score of 4-2 to the New York Rangers. Two of those goals came from touted prospect and Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey. While overall it’s hard to complain about the start to the season, some negative trends have begun to emerge.
This was the second consecutive game in which the Caps coughed up a two-goal lead (and then some). And special teams are struggling, with the penalty kill only 71.4 percent effective (4th worst in the league) and the 12.5 percent power play not getting properly set up in the zone.
One of the most beloved superstars in hockey history, Teemu Selanne, was back in Winnipeg this weekend to participate in the Heritage Alumni Game between the Jets and Oilers. He had a great time.
“Two weeks training and I would be ready for the NHL,” Selanne quipped at the Jets’ alumni practice Friday, according to Finnish reporter Sami Hoffren.
While Selanne was not actually pondering a comeback, he did have some positive things to say about Patrik Laine, the Jets’ new face of the franchise. Selanne believes Laine could break his rookie record of 76 goals.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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