News and notes as the Capitals take part in a well-attended optional skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex foillowing Monday night’s 1-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers:
Perfect Braden: Braden Holtby’s 33 saves against the Oilers were his most this season and his shutout was his first of the season and 21st of his career. Holtby has won four straight and has posted a 12-4-0 record this season with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
Those are numbers that should warrant strong consideration for Team Canada in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Holtby is now 4-1-1 in his career against the Oilers with two shutouts. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Holtby ranks tied for second in the NHL in shutouts (18).
“Shutouts to me have a lot to do with puck luck,” Holtby said Tuesday. “Sometimes you play a lot better in games when you get scored on three times. The main thing is just finding a way to win. That’s all that matters. Your goal every game is to try and be perfect but hockey happens and you try to take every shot as you can and try to help the team win.”
Charting Ovi: Nine of Alex Ovechkin’s team-high 10 goals have come at even strength. He has just one power-play goal on a league-high 36 power-play shots. He has had no power-play shots blocked, but has had 19 miss the net. So that’s one goal on 55 attempts at the net.
More numbers: Ovechkin led all skaters in hits (7) and led the Capitals in shots (5) Monday night. John Carlson recorded a season-high seven blocked shots and Nicklas Backstrom won 14 of 21 faceoffs (66.7 percent).
Margin of victory: The Caps have won by a 1-0 score 25 times in their history. Their last came on Jan. 14, 2015, against Philadelphia. Jason Chimera scored the game-winning goal in the first period and Braden Holtby stopped all 21 shots he faced.
Nice start: The Caps’ 14-5-1 (29 points) start is their best since going 14-5-1 to start the 2010-11 season. Their best sstart after 20 games came in 1992 when they went 15-5-0 (30 points).
Home dominance: The Caps are 8-3-1 at home this season, earning at least a point in six of their last seven home games (5-1-1).
MORE CAPITALS: After pregame mishap, Holtby hopes Williams isn't superstitious
Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.
Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.
This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.
The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?
Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.
That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).
Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.
SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE
Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:
In contention for: Norris
Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.
In contention for: Hart
Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.
Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!