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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.

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Photo: Kevin Hoffman

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.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Capitals have the best record in the National Hockey League. They are playing their most impressive hockey in years. On Saturday, after not skating for four days during the Christmas break, the Capitals pounced on the hobbled Montreal Canadians for their seventh straight victory, with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jay Beagle, and Jason Chimera providing the scoring.

“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.

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Here’s How the Capitals Spent Their Christmas Break

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Photo: @jc7474

The Washington Capitals have been on Christmas Break ever since Monday’s thrilling 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

So what has everyone been up to? I’m glad you asked.

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Photo: Perry Nelson

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.

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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.

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Travis Yost recently discussed the utility of individual point percentage (IPP) in forecasting player performance. The article is a great introduction to IPP, so I recommend reading the entire thing if you’re not familiar with the concept.

Here’s a excerpt:

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.

Let’s apply this to the 2015-16 Capitals.

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Photo: Alex Brandon

We already told you that Alex Ovechkin took home the Rocket Richard Trophy for the fifth time and Braden Holtby finished fourth in voting for the Vezina Trophy. But there are a few other juicy tidbits from the NHL Awards ceremony that we missed.

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Photo: @gnacarlson

The Summer of Caps Babies continued yesterday with the birth of John and Gina Carlson’s son, Lucca. Via RMNB reader Marianna S., Gina posted an adorable photo of the little man on Instagram and reported he arrived June 15 at 12:30 p.m., weighing in at 7 pounds 5 ounces.

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