In this week’s snapshot, Peter offered his assessment of the Caps’ chances this Spring in the playoffs:

However they looked in October and whatever hot streaks we’ve seen this season, the Capitals are not a championship team. (Or, if they are, we haven’t seen evidence of it lately.) They’re not bad like under Adam Oates (and for that I am grateful) but they’re not great. They’re just good. They’re a good team with a good coach.

Unless the bounces go bad or they draw a tough team, these Capitals should make it into the second round of the playoffs. No further.

I tend to agree with Peter. The Caps are a solid team. And while anything can happen once you get into the playoffs, I wouldn’t put any kind of money on this being the Caps’ year. They are a good team, but they are not currently a Cup-caliber team.

But, like I said, anything can happen once you’re in the playoffs. So let’s look at three reasons the Caps could win the Cup, beyond the fact that hockey, much like life, is often more random and unpredictable than we can comprehend. And then to be end on a downer, we’ll look at three reasons the Caps won’t win the Cup.

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Shot Generation Is a Problem for Caps Forwards

Alex Brandon

Photo: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have one of the most prolific goal scorers in NHL history in Alex Ovechkin. One of the main ingredients in Ovechkin’s success is his ability to generate an insane amount of shots. Since entering the league, Ovechkin has 2252 shots on goal during 5v5 play, 553 more than the next player, Rick Nash. In terms of shot attempts, Ovechkin has 4326, which is 1,479 more than the next closest player. Here’s one stat I can’t wrap my mind around:

This season is no exception. Ovechkin is once again pacing the league in shot attempt rate.

But here’s the problem: After Ovechkin, the 2014-15 Caps’ forward corps struggles mightily to generate shot attempts.

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Nick Backstrom: 2013-14 Season Review

The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing number: Zyrtec.

Okay, Let’s talk about Nick Backstrom.

By the Numbers

82 Games played
19.3 Average time on ice per game
18 Goals
61 Assists
49.3% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
42.3% Goal percentage during 5v5
7.2% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
91.2% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

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Nick Backstrom is Gonna Get That Silver Medal After All

BackstromKettler

The scourge of performance-enhancing allergy medicine be darned, the International Olympic Committee Disciplinary Commission has decided to award Nick Backstrom his silver medal (PDF).

As you recall, Backstrom was prohibited from playing in the gold-medal game two hours before puck drop due to the results of a urine test four days earlier. The test showed that Backstrom’s urine contained more pseudoephedrine than was acceptable. Sweden lost the gold medal game to Canada, and Backstrom’s medal status was in question until like just now.

Here’s to consolation prizes.

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Photo: David J. Phillip

Nicklas Backstrom did not participate in Sunday’s gold medal game against Canada. Originally reported as suffering from a migraine, we later learned Backstrom tested positive for a banned substance. Swedish hockey officials have stated that drug is an allergy medicine.

Here’s everything we know so far.

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Nick Backstrom Named to Swedish Olympic Team

Ice Hockey - Day 10 - Sweden v Finland

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Sweden has released its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and a familiar face is right in the middle. Caps center Nick Backstrom shares the roster with the Sedin twins, Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Zetterberg, and Daniel Alfredsson. Marcus Johansson did not make the roster.

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Tony Gutierrez

Photo: Tony Gutierrez

The Washington Capitals wrapped up the first week of the new season with a Saturday night date with the Dallas Stars. The Caps’ blistering power play kept on cracking, but the team looked aimless at even strength.

Alex Ovechkin did the power play thing, scoring the game’s first goal from his favorite spot. Following an unwise hard-around in the D-zone,  Star Erik Cole tied it up from the slot, and Alex Chiasson (playing in his 8th NHL game) gave them the lead on a 3-on-2. A late-game delay of game from Tyler Seguin yielded some excitement in the final minute, but no goal.

Stars beat Caps 2-1.

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30 Days Out: Healthy Mike, Healthy Brooks, Healthy Nicky

mike green

The first puck of the 2013-14 season will drop in exactly 30 days, so we’re going to spend the whole month reminding ourselves of all the good things coming our way on October 1st. I thought I’d start with this little gem: Everybody’s healthy. For once.

Over the last two seasons, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, and Nick Backstrom have combined to play just 63.5% of games. Concussions and #brittlegroin have cost those players a combined 142 man-games, probably a big factor in the Caps’ struggles since 2011. After successful rehab for all three, we’ve got reason to think those troubles are behind us now.

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

Yet again. (Photo credit: USA Today)

Alex Ovechkin sat on the bench, glaring down at the ice with his head between his hands. He looked defeated, because he was. His sixth visit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs was about to end in another disappointing loss, after another year failing to meet expectations.

After the game, Ovi stood in front the white board at the far end of the Capitals locker room and went off.

I am not saying there was a phone call from [the NHL], but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings; you know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.

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Bad Ice and Bad News: Rangers beat Caps 4-3

Bruce Bennett

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Game three of the quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was an opportunity for a statement. The Capitals could have played just as they had last week and put NYR in a headlock. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Capitals got drawn into a quagmire on rocky ice– a penalty-punctuated, back-and-forth battle that they could not win despite dominating the even-strength game.

Rangers beat Capitals 4-3. Capitals still lead the series 2-1.

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