The Tampa Bay Lightning put the boots to the remainder of the NHL final season. Really, verify that: the Lightning put the boots to the remainder of the NHL final common season. Essential distinction, that.
However nicely earlier than Tampa Bay launched into a truncated post-season run, it took not more than a number of weeks for the hockey world to sit down up and take discover of what the Lightning have been doing to the competitors. By the top of the opening month, Tampa Bay had misplaced solely twice. By the top of November, the Bolts had suffered simply eight defeats. And by this time final 12 months, it was changing into abundantly clear that the pre-season’s top-odds Stanley Cup contender was able to raze a path to the Presidents’ Trophy and publish top-of-the-line data in league historical past. That’s precisely what the Lightning did, ending the season with an NHL record-tying 62 wins and a 128-point season that stands because the fourth better of all-time.
So, why convey this up now? It’s actually not with out cause.
You see, on this date final season, the Lightning have been nicely on their approach to establishing themselves as probably the most dominant golf equipment the league had seen in a while. In 32 video games, Tampa Bay had accrued 24 wins, 49 factors and sat atop the league by six factors with the vacation break quick approaching. And precisely one 12 months later, as Washington prepares to enter a mega-powers battle in opposition to the Boston Bruins, the Capitals accomplish that having registered 22 wins and 49 factors by means of their first 32 video games, placing them on tempo for a 126-point marketing campaign. And so they’ve accomplished this all with seemingly a fraction the fanfare of final season’s Lightning.
Perhaps there’s a cause for that. Perhaps it’s as a result of there’s a hesitance to rejoice the Capitals’ success when the Bolts crashed and burned so spectacularly final season. Perhaps it’s as a result of the hole between Washington and the next-best group, the aforementioned Bruins, is barely three factors. Or possibly it’s as a result of we’ve grown used to seeing this out of the Capitals. In any case, if Washington finishes this season with 105 factors or extra, it’ll mark the sixth time prior to now 10 full 82-game campaigns they’ve accomplished so. Common season dominance does get a bit ho-hum after so lengthy, that a lot is true.
Even nonetheless, it appears like this season’s Capitals aren’t fairly getting their due. The highlight has been shone on sure gamers, to make sure. John Carlson, as an example, has obtained no scarcity of reward round these elements for his play, together with a couple of appears at his Norris candidacy and probably historic scoring tempo. However Carlson isn’t the one one – nor the one facet of Washington’s success – who must be heralded.
One undeniably good attribute of those Capitals, and one which hasn’t been famous sufficient, is that the depth of scoring is unrivalled all through the NHL. Whereas Carlson is pacing the group with 11 objectives and 43 factors, the Capitals have one other 5 gamers with a minimum of 10 tallies and one other six with 20 or extra factors. (The six 10-goal gamers and 7 20-point scorers are league-best totals.) Included in that group, as one would possibly anticipate, are the same old suspects. Alex Ovechkin has 20 tallies and 33 factors, Evgeny Kuznetsov has 12 objectives and 30 factors, each Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie are a part of the group, and regardless of lacking eight video games this season, Nicklas Backstrom has additionally handed the 20-point threshold.
The shock of the bunch, although, has been Jakub Vrana, who after a noteworthy-but-not-altogether-breakout 24-goal, 47-point efficiency final season finds himself on tempo to flirt with the 40-goal and 70-point plateaus this season. Ought to we anticipate him to get there? Most likely not given he doesn’t skate prime minutes on a constant foundation, however even when he reaches the 30-goal and 60-point marks this season, he may have supplied the already offensively gifted Capitals with yet one more weapon. None of that is to say the secondary offense that has additionally been supplied by the likes of Lars Eller and defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Michal Kempny.
It’s the sheer quantity of offensive expertise that has helped the Capitals flip into one of many league’s most opportunistic groups, too. In not one of the shot, shot makes an attempt or possibilities metrics is Washington on the high of the heap. Matter of truth, the Capitals’ seventh-best 27.2 scoring possibilities per 60 minutes charge is the very best it ranks in any of the notable underlying group statistics. However after they get these possibilities – and any probability, actually – Washington is taking pictures out the lights. The Capitals are tied for 10th with a 14.three taking pictures proportion on scoring possibilities at five-a-side, rank sixth with at 19.four p.c on high-danger possibilities and solely 5 groups have a better 5-on-5 taking pictures proportion than Washington’s 9.three p.c.
It’s by the use of an offense that has made probably the most of any and all alternatives that the Capitals have been in a position to masks what deficiencies they do have. As an illustration, Washington’s goaltending duo is tied for 18th within the NHL with a .917 SP at fives. The Capitals are additionally a middling group with a 16th-ranked 50.2 Corsi proportion, 15th-ranked 49.6 pictures proportion and 12th-ranked 51.1 anticipated objectives for proportion. However mediocre 5-on-5 numbers haven’t meant a lot of something to Washington as a result of few groups have been in a position to hold tempo with their assault.
The million-dollar query is whether or not it will probably maintain, after all. Even when it doesn’t, although, the Capitals’ 100.9 PDO means that there’s little wizardry at work right here, that we’re seeing in Washington is price believing. And that ought to strike concern into the remainder of the Jap Convention, as a result of a Capitals group that has climbed the mountain earlier than certain appears as if they’ve the items in place to try to blast their means there as soon as once more.
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Tags: washington capitalsConnect: In regards to the AuthorJared ClintonJared Clinton is a author and net editor with The Hockey Information. He is been with the group since 2014. He was born, raised and resides in Winnipeg, the place he might be discovered lacking the online on outside rinks throughout city.