We are ten games into the post Stanley Cup winning season and the Caps haven’t really hit their stride yet. To date they have won seven games – two in overtime, and they have lost three with two in overtime. Although we are seeing some rising stars (and some struggling skates), we have yet to see the consistency we hoped for given their outstanding launch on 3 October.
Lets start with their strengths.
Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the league in power play goals (5). Alex Ovechkin has four.
Ovechkin has eight goals total And continues to inspire the team through his professionalism and his generosity on and off the ice.
The scoring is spread across a few top players who are carrying the team right now.
The Caps have two amazing too line centers in Nick Backstrom and Kuznetsov. And the defense is fortunate to have John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and Michal Kempny. Carly is one of the best scoring defenseman in the league right now.
The Caps lead the power play percentage (37.1) and it remains a key advantage for the team. That’s a great stat; however, they can’t rely on the man-advantage to win games. They need to gain control and keep control of the puck in regular play.
Then there are some weaknesses:
The Caps need to get and keep the lead. They are finding themselves in overtime situations far too many times. OT takes a toll on players- physically and me mentally. We saw this last season and it took a while for them to get back to regulation wins.
The penalty kill just doesn’t seem to be working for the Capitals right now. They have the 26th weakest PK in the league and it is a real Achilles Heel for them. The Caps are making silly mistakes that send them to the box and they need to tighten up their game to keep out of the box.
Their faceoff is even worse. They are 28th in the league and the gap left by Jay Beagle is a glaring hole.
Can we talk Andre Burakovsky? He finally recorded a goal against the Oilers and we are cautiously optimistic that he has turned a corner in his play.
Some of the changes the team made over the summer have left a gap that needs refinement. One of those most certainly is Jay Beagle. Nic Dowd looked like the potential gap-filler; however,
Many anticipated that Tom Wilson would be a major contributor to the Capitals’ success. It is hard to judge at this early stage if his absence, due to a league suspension, is a factor in keeping opponents in check. (ok maybe that is a bad use of a phrase!)
The Capitals are still adjusting to a new coach and a few roster changes. They haven’t had many games this first month and they have had long breaks between games. We expect to see them improve on their deficits come November. Tom Wilson with return late in the month and that will take some adjustment the first few games out. But this is a team that has learned to adapt as they go. Although they are down in the team standings, it is still early in a very of season and it is far to early to be concerned.