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Caps blank Canes, set franchise record in the process

Caps blank Canes, set franchise record in the process

With their 5-0 win over Carolina, the Capitals won their 10th straight game at Verizon Center.

While that’s impressive, it might not have been their most significant accomplishment Tuesday night. That’s because Braden Holtby’s 23-save effort also gave the Caps their 10th shutout of the season, a new franchise record.

Holtby now has seven shutouts, tying him for the league lead with Kings’ netminder Peter Budaj. Holtby’s backup, Philipp Grubauer, owns the other three.

“Our goalies have all year been unbelievable for us,” Marcus Johansson said. “It’s fun to play right now. The confidence in the group is outstanding. And the goaltenders are giving us a chance night in and night out.”

RELATED: Trotz still finding ways to improve the team and the players are listening

Indeed, Holtby and Grubauer have been great. But you don’t earn 10 shutouts in 54 games with great goaltending alone. It requires a team effort. And right now, no one in the NHL is playing better as a unit than the league-leading Caps.

“Both of those guys have been outstanding,” Coach Barry Trotz said of his goalies. “In the locker room [Justin Williams] said every night we could hand the [game MVP] award out to those guys because they’ve been very, very good.”

“But,” Trotz continued, “at the same time, it’s a team. …Our overall five-on-five has been solid for the most part. Our goaltending has been solid. A lot of areas have been really good.”

The Caps’ previous high for shutouts in a season was nine, which the team managed in 2014-15 (all with Holtby in net) and 1995-96 (all by Jim Carey).

Two more interesting factoids about the double-digit shutout total: nine have come at home, which is also a record, and three times the Caps have pitched shutouts in back-to-back games, including consecutive 5-0 wins over the Kings and ‘Canes.

It’s even more ridiculous when you look at the scores of the shutouts, particularly the last four.

  • Oct. 18: 3-0 vs. Avalanche.
  • Nov. 18: 1-0 vs. Red Wings
  • Dec. 11: 3-0 vs. Canucks.
  • Dec. 23: 4-0 vs. Lightning.
  • Jan. 5: 5-0 vs. Blue Jackets
  • Jan. 7: 1-0 at Senators
  • Jan. 13: 6-0 vs. Blackhawks
  • Jan. 15: 5-0 vs. Flyers
  • Feb. 5: 5-0 vs. Kings
  • Feb. 7: 5-0 vs. Hurricanes.

Asked about the Caps’ ridiculous run of blanking opponents, Holtby said he and Grubauer don’t give shutouts much thought as they’re unfolding.

“Shutouts are a funny thing because some games you play better than you do in shutouts and the puck goes in,” Holtby said. “So you can’t really look into that [too] much. I think we’re more focused on giving our team a chance to win based on the night that’s been handed to us. Philipp has done a phenomenal job of that.”

Then Holtby channeled his inner Bill Belichick.

“We’re just trying to do our job,” he said.

MORE CAPITALS: Caps extend home dominance to 10 straight wins

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Flyers continue their dominance over the Capitals in round robin win

Flyers continue their dominance over the Capitals in round robin win

The Philadelphia Flyers had the Capitals' number in the regular season and that carried over to the postseason even five months later. Travis Boyd scored the Caps' lone goal in a lackluster performance as they fell 3-1 to the Flyers on Thursday. The loss means Washington will finish third or fourth in the round robin.

Here's why the Caps lost.

Too many penalties

Washington did not give up a single power play in the first round robin game against Tamap Bay. The team certainly made up for lost time on Thursday with a parade to the penalty box. The Caps faced six power plays all through the first two periods. This was not just a case of referees calling the game tight, these were blatant, obvious, bone-headed penalties.

The penalty kill was actually very good and finished perfect on the day, killing off all six power plays. That's good, but the effect of taking so many penalties was evident. Washington was chasing the play, the offense had no rhythm and no momentum.

On Monday, a T.J. Oshie fight sparked the team to rally from a two-goal deficit. On Thursday, the team was playing physically, but it was just reckless and completely took them out of their game.

RELATED: ALL OF THE ROUND ROBIN SCENARIOS TIED TO CAPITALS VS. FLYERS

Faceoffs

You can't score if you don't have the puck. Metrics like Corsi are used to measure possession and in that category Washington broke even at 50-percent. But in another possession metric, Washington was blitzed: The faceoff.

When a team wins a faceoff, they begin the play with possession and Philadelphia got the better of the Caps by a wide margin, winning 67-percent of the faceoffs.

The Flyers were the best faceoff team through the regular season and that was evident on Thursday as they dominated the Caps at the dot.

A bad turnover

Radko Gudas will want this one back. With the puck on his stick behind the goal line, Gudas put on the brakes to shake off the pressure from Travis Konecny. Konecny skated by, but Gudas put the puck on his backhand and tried to pass it through Kevin Hayes who easily picked it off along the boards. Suddenly the Caps were out of position and Konecny was wide open in front of the net. He took the pass, delivered a pretty no-look spin pass behind him to Scott Laughton for the slam dunk.

Nicklas Backstrom clipped the skate of Braden Holtby on the play, not allowing Holtby the chance to stretch out for the save attempt on Laughton, but frankly, he was not going to get there anyway.

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The Flyers' movement

Philadelphia generated a lot of room in the offensive zone with the constant movement of its forwards. This seems obvious -- it's hockey, after all -- but the Caps' defense could not keep up.

Hayes had all eyes on him as he stickhandled around in Washington's defensive zone. He battled with Jonas Siegenthaler in the corner, then retreated to the top of the circle, closely followed by Siegenthaler. Dmitry Orlov drifted up and to the left, Siegenthaler's side, as Hayes continued to stickhandle. That left room for Travis Sanheim who skated in behind the right side of the defense. Hayes found him and he beat Holtby one-on-one for Philadelphia's second goal.

In the third period, Orlov went behind the net after Travis Konecny who passed it off to Hayes. Siegenthaler went after Hayes while Konecny stopped behind the net. As Hayes stickhandled on the right, Laughton charged in from the left where there was no defense to be found. Kuznetsov recognized the net was open and parked in front, but was too far up. Laughton put the puck into the net before Kuznetsov or either of the two defensemen could even react.

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All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

If you're a Capitals fan, you may be tired of hearing about how these round robin games "matter." With the other teams playing actual playoff series, it's hard to view the round robin games the same way. While there may not be as much on the line Thursday for the Caps and the Philadelphia Flyers (4 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) as there is in the qualification series, that doesn't mean Thursday's game doesn't matter. With only three round robin games, there is a lot riding on this game.

Here are the standings heading in:

Tampa Bay 4 points (2 games played)
Philadelphia 2 points (1 game played)
Washington 1 point (1 game played)
Boston 0 points (2 games played)

With that in mind, here are all the possible scenarios for the Caps in Thursday's game.

If the Caps win in regulation...

Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

If the Caps win in overtime or a shootout...

The scenario is exactly the same as above. Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

It doesn't matter if the win is in regulation, overtime or a shootout. Just win baby.

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If the Caps lose in overtime or a shootout...

Washington could finish in second, third or fourth place, but will be out of the running for first. The Caps will earn second place if they beat Boston in the round robin finale AND Philadelphia loses in regulation to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

If the Caps lose in regulation...

The highest Washington could finish is in third place. The winner of Sunday's Boston-Washington game will determine who is in third and who is fourth.

Stay connected to the Capitals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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