After Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Senators, the Capitals are allowing just 2.06 goals per game, which is tied for tops in the league.
Minnesota and Columbus have also permitted 2.06 goals per contest.
“It’s a team thing,” Coach Barry Trotz said ahead of Tuesday's game against the visiting Maple Leafs. “What we’ve seen is our team values both sides of the puck more.”
“They [understand] that if they take care of business in their own end, they have the puck more and it makes for an easier game for us,” he added. “I think they’ve bought into that part, even more so. It’s been a process over the three years.”
Just how good have the Caps been defensively through 36 games? Consider:
- They are second in the league in goals allowed 5-on-5 (48). Only the Blue Jackets, winners of 15 straight, have allowed fewer (47).
- The penalty kill (87.3-percent effectiveness) ranks second in the league. Since Dec. 1, the Jay Beagle and Karl Alzner-led unit is tops in the NHL.
- The Caps are sixth in shots allowed per game (28.0).
- Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer lead the league in goals against average (2.02) and are third in combined save percentage (.927). The tandem is also tied for third in shutouts with four.
“Goaltending is one reason,” winger T.J. Oshie said. “Our two goaltenders are pretty top-tier. With that, you look at our blue line, even the guys that can’t play each night. You got [Taylor Chorney] and [Nate Schmidt] that are NHL players and should be in the lineup. So we have a lot of depth back there. The [defense] is also very good at ending odd-man rushes before they get going. That plays a big part in it. Our penalty kill has been outstanding. So there’s a lot of things. Obviously, you want to keep building on those things and we certainly take pride in the things we’re good at.”
As pleased as Trotz is with how his team is playing on the defensive side of the puck, he’s also aware that his group needs to pick it up in the offensive end and, in particular, on the power play.
The Caps have improved to 13th in goals scored per game (2.72), but that still lags behind last year’s production (3.02) and is lower than what the team expects of itself. The power play, meanwhile, is in a 0-for-17 slump over the past six games after showing signs of improvement in the previous 15 contests.
“Now the offensive part of our game is starting to take off, hopefully,” Trotz said. “And if we can get the power play numbers to creep up to where we hope they will be, then that will be a pretty good game plan for us.”