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Hockey Daily Dose

Dose: Capitals capitalize

by James O'Brien
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Hot take: being tired isn’t fun.

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-- No team's gotten to 44 wins faster than Washington's done it, which is in 58 games. The Capitals' 44-10-4 record is ridiculous.

I do wonder about the playoffs, but not for the hackneyed, ridiculous, hate-on-Ovechkin reasons that especially crusty sportswriters probably want to bring up.

No, I've noticed that Washington's possession stats are surprisingly run-of-the-mill for a team so far ahead of everyone else in the standings.

There are two things that stand out for me as variables.

-- Braden Holtby's high standard of play makes you wonder what happens if he stumbles or even gets hurt.

If I were the Caps, I'd look at the Carey Price situation and ponder investing in a backup.

-- More broadly, what if refs put their whistles away and negate some of the Capitals' ridiculously productive power play?

Those possession stats normally ignore special teams, and Washington is outstanding there.

In particular, their 23.2 power play percentage impresses as the best in the NHL, with Alex Ovechkin's trigger being especially unstoppable.

That group may still be efficient during the playoffs, but you wonder a touch there.

-- On the other end, the rise of Marcus Johansson and Andre Burakovsky could very well make up the difference in certain areas.

The Caps could also make a savvy rental.

I'm not saying Washington is a paper champion or anything like that. I do wonder, and those possession numbers at least start the wondering.

-- Circling back to Ovechkin, he’s scored 18 goals in as many games.

Ovechkin's now at 39 goals overall, and he also grabbed: an assist, a +1 rating, four PIM and nine SOG on Monday.

He's a machine who never breaks.

-- Mike Richards scored his first goal as a member of the Capitals, and it was weird.

No, he's not worth having on your roster.


-- I’m starting to wonder if there’s a Blues voodoo doll out there. Or maybe David Backes’ shenanigans are no longer offset by his love of dogs?

Anyway, a day after the Blues learned that Alexander Steen will be on the shelf for weeks (yes, it’s probably best just to cut ties there right now), Brian Elliott suffered a lower-body injury during this game and didn’t return.

There’s something spooky about it happening on the same night that Jake Allen returned from injury. Neither goalie enjoyed a good night, although it wasn’t all their fault.

-- That’s because the Blues’ skaters put them in bad positions at critical points.

Maybe more so with Elliott. Ryan Reaves delivered a questionable boarding hit on Matt Tennyson, who may be concussed after a scary fall following that check. Reaves racked up 15 PIM on that play in getting ejected, and the resulting penalty (and another infraction that opened up a 5-on-3) really put St. Louis in a bind.

Tomas Hertl scored the game's first two goals, while Logan Couture made it 3-0. St. Louis technically matched that goal total, but the Sharks were able to ride their hot start to a nice win.

They're keeping pace with their Pacific rivals for the top spot, although they currently find themselves three points behind the Kings and one behind the Ducks.

-- Joe Thornton likely generated the best night of anyone on the ice, scoring two goals and two assists. Normally I'd ding him for an ENG, but wow, that was an extra-cool one.

Thornton has been remarkable in 2015-16, scoring 51 points in 57 games. I'd be surprised if he doesn't exceed last season's 65 points.

-- Rough night for Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny in particular. They weren't alone in going without points, but -3 rating sting.

-- Wow, Vladimir Tarasenko looked dangerous often here, scoring a goal and two assists. He has to be one of the five best snipes in the NHL, right?

-- I've heard some talk that Kevin Shattenkirk might be the odd man out cap-wise. They ... shouldn't let that happen.

/Even hotter takes


-- Boone Jenner is already enjoying the best statistical year of his young career. With two goals on Monday, he now has 21 goals and 34 points. He recently generated 15 PIM, pushing him to 65 (easily his best in that category too).

At 22, he could be a power forward to watch, especially in depth spots in drafts.

-- Brandon Saad recorded goal 22, one shy of tying the career-best mark of 23 set in 2014-15.

He has a ways to go overall, as his 38 points trails last season's career-best mark of 52 by 14. He has a shot at matching that, though.

-- Scott Hartnell is well on his way to a typically effective season: 19 goals and 92 PIM. He's probably flopped on the ice hundreds of times, too.

He's very close to 300 career goals and already has 1,644 PIM in 1,088 regular season games. Fantasy owners salute him.

-- Seth Jones isn't the only young defenseman worth pondering going forward. Ryan Murray has serious potential, as we got glimpses of on Monday with his two assists.

-- Nice game by Matt Beleskey, scoring two goals. Loui Eriksson also collected two tallies, continuing a nice contract year.

-- Not that great of a game for Brad Marchand, although he gifted fantasy owners with 10 PIM via a shaky misconduct call. Nice.


-- Craig Smith turned heads by essentially stopping his own goal, and while he redeemed himself with the shootout-winner, the biggest losers are fantasy owners (at least of Smith).

Pretty funny though.

-- Nashville's been able to get beyond regulation often enough to scratch out some extra points, but they've also left plenty on the table. It's interesting that Nashville's (28-21-11) record isn't that different in many ways than Montreal's 28-27-5 mark.

-- Pekka Rinne's showing some much-needed signs of progress. He has only allowed three goals in as many appearances, winning two of them. The Habs can still be dangerous in Montreal, so the quality of competition (also facing the Kings and Bruins) was considerable.

If you're in the mix and Rinne's on your team, put the months of disappointment behind you and just hope he really is figuring this out.

-- Tom Gilbert’s not very relevant, but jfyi, he’s out for the season thanks to left knee surgery. Ouch.

James O'Brien
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.