Once a week this season, we're taking a closer look at the numbers and pointing out a few trends that every Capitals fan should know about.
After equaling his career best for points in a game (5) vs. the Penguins, Backy now leads the Capitals with 15. Let’s be honest—his ho-hum start to the season a little concerning. But that’s in the past now. He’s got 10 points in the last seven games and has been the team’s most dangerous player two contests in a row.
For the second week in a row, Oshie is sizzling. With two goals against Pittsburgh, the right wing has eight on the season, putting him on pace for 41, which would be a career-high. By a lot. He’s also been a force on the penalty kill since seeing his shorthanded ice time increase dramatically earlier this month. In fact, he’s tied with teammate Jay Beagle and six others in shorthanded points (2) and has helped the unit vault to 13th (83.3 percent) after a slow start.
With three goals and three assists in his last night games, Beagle is having one of the hottest point-producing stretches of his career. He recently told reporters that he worked harder than usual on his hands and shot this offseason, often renting ice in his hometown of Calgary to practice on his own. He’s also shooting a bit more. With 24 shots, he’s on pace for a career-high 123.
I mentioned this in my Capitals-Penguins instant analysis, but it bears repeating: a year after struggling with their starts, the Capitals have been, for the most part, outstanding in the first period. Their 19 first period goals are the most in the league entering Thursday’s action.
With a goal against the Pens, the Russian D-man ended a 30-game goal drought dating to March. The tally also marked his third point in four games. He’s fourth on the team in average ice time per game (19:24).
Kuzy got his second goal of the season in Carolina, but he’s still fighting it a bit right now. Overall, he’s got one point in the last seven games after behind held off the score sheet vs. the Penguins. It should be noted that Kuznetsov is currently tied for 11th on the team in shots (22). That, obviously, isn't enough.
He earned an assist on Alex Ovechkin’s goal vs. the Pens, but he’s got a lot of catching up to do in the goal scoring dept. He netted two in the opener and has been looking for No. 3 ever since. Against Pittsburgh, he was held without a shot on goal for the first time all season.
The unit came into Wednesday's game in a 1-for-19 funk, then it enjoyed an unexpected breakthrough against a red-hot opponent, scoring twice (4-on-3 and 5 on 3, by the way). But, as Ovechkin was quick to point out, it was just one game. Indeed, the power play needs to get into a sustained groove. Wednesday's performance was a start, though, as the unit improved from 25th to 21st (14.3-percent).
He’s earned a sweater in 12 straight games, but, man, the kid needs a goal to get his confidence going.