With the Caps back from the all-star break, a third of the roster went on team-building event on Wednesday. Justin Williams, Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson, Philipp Grubauer, Brooks Laich, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Nicklas Backstrom braved a torrential downpour to take a private tour of The White House.
I’d give you more details, but the Caps didn’t share any. That’s okay; we’ve got social media.
Over the last two days, the DC Blizzard dropped two feet of snow in the district and three feet in surrounding areas. The snow forced the cancellation of both Caps’ home games this weekend including tilts against the Ducks and Penguins. That leaves the Caps in a really weird stretch, where they’ll only play one game in 14 days.
Without hockey, the players spent time with their families and messing around on social media. I went ahead and documented it all.
As the Capitals finished off their ninth straight win on Wednesday, the sellout crowd roared in approval of the NHL’s best team. But 20 minutes later, there were only hushed gasps from the press corps as head coach Barry Trotz explained how costly Washington’s 28th had been.
Jay Beagle, who left the game with 5:52 left in the second period, will need upper-body surgery. Though Trotz refused to say what the injury was, the coach said Washington’s third line center, who has tallied six goals this season, will be out “for an extended period of time.” He is expected to be placed on injured reserve shortly.
The Washington Capitals managed to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 at First Niagara Center despite missing their entire first defensive pairing in Brooks Orpik and John Carlson. While Orpik been out most of the year with a mystery lower-body injury, Carlson missed his first game in nearly six years after suffering a lower-body injury of his own against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Carlson played 25:11 that evening. On Monday, he was replaced in the lineup by prospect Connor Carrick.
Carlson, who ended a streak of 412 consecutive games, was just 10 games away from matching Bobby Carpenter’s franchise record of 422.
“I think it’s huge for us,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “I think with this team, we showed tonight, we don’t need everybody going. We have secondary scoring. It takes a lot of the pressure off some our top guys.”
One of those top guys, in fact, is Schmidt. Since Brooks Orpik went down with a lower body injury in early November, Schmidt has been called on to play on the top defensive pairing with John Carlson, one of the team’s stalwarts for the past five seasons. Against the Canadians, Schmidt tallied two assists, tying his career high in points and helpers.
Things are going very well for the Washington Capitals. At 6-1-0, they lead the Metropolitan Division and are tied for the second most standing points in the league. Heading into Saturday night, several Caps were at or near the top of the league’s leaderboards.
Capitals GM Brian MacLellan should be swinging his pants around his head like a helicopter right now. Let’s recap.
Just like shooting womp rats back home, John Carlson‘s scoring acumen is something preternatural. Take for example his goal on Thursday night, a spin-a-rama from above the circles that had no business being on target and even less business hitting the back of the net.
He wasn’t even looking! Blind, like Polyphemus, Carlson takes the pass and fires with effortless fluidity. Midichlorians flowing. The puck sails past a flailing Swede before beating poor old Scott Darling in net.
Another metric I like to look at is ‘Individual Point Percentage’ (“IPP“), which shows how frequently a player was awarded a point in an event his team (a) scored; and (b) the player was on the ice. Much like our on-ice save percentage example for defencemen, IPP regresses substantially towards league averages. On average, forwards usually receive a point on about 68 per cent of goals scored when they are on the ice. That number sits at about 30 per cent for defencemen.
Context is key: we simply can’t treat all players as equals in a hockey vacuum. Sidney Crosby(84.8 per cent) and Erik Karlsson (49.4 per cent) lead career IPP and it’s not a fluke – they’re constantly involved in the run of play, and as such, pick up extra points along the way. If we want to identify outliers, we must first observe strong deviations from the league norms, and then observe strong deviations from a player’s career norms.