Capitals

Quick Links

Five stats to know about the Capitals' Game 1 win over the Penguins

Five stats to know about the Capitals' Game 1 win over the Penguins

BY RICH GOLDBERG (@GoldyStats

Here are five stats that help put the Capitals' Game 1 win over the Penguins in perspective for fans: 

Streak over:  T.J. Oshie entered Game 1 with a 0-5 record when scoring a goal in the playoffs. It took a hat trick to make that record 1-5. Oshie has 6 goals in 6 games (regular season/playoffs) against the Penguins this season.

Nothing new: The Penguins may have a 7-1 playoff series record against the Capitals, but they cannot win Game 1. Pittsburgh is 1-8 in the opening game of a postseason series against Washington. The Penguins have lost 7 straight Game 1 road games against all teams since 2001.

Hit parade: Alex Ovechkin is known for his goal scoring, but it’s his force and might swaying the way for the Caps. Ovechkin led the team with 7 hits in Game 1. He’s first on the Capitals with 35 hits this postseason and ranks 4th highest in the NHL.

Back to 0: Here are the Penguins power play goal totals against the Rangers last round: 1, 2, 1, 3 and 1. Against the Capitals it was 0. Thursday marked the first time in 6 playoff games the Penguins did not score a power play goal, going 0 for 2.

Two-ray! We had seen this before. Braden Holtby starts, allows 2 goals in a playoff game, Capitals lose. Thursday though, marked the first time in the last 14 games Braden Holtby allowed at least 2 goals in a playoff start and Washington won the matchup.

Quick Links

Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

chandler_stephenson.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

With Tom Wilson still serving a 20-game suspension, Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden has the difficult task of finding a wing to complement his top line of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. For the first four games of the season, that player was Brett Connolly.

On Saturday, however, he changed things up and went with Chandler Stephenson instead.

Just 18 seconds into the game, Stephenson made his head coach look very smart as he finished off a 2-on-1 with Kuznetsov to score his first goal of the season.

“Obviously, the start was great,” Reirden said after the game.

Stephenson is an incredibly fast skater and the extra speed seemed to add another dimension to that line that opponents had to contend with, and it led to both of the Caps’ goals on the night.

In addition to Stephenson’s goal, Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty in the second period, and Washington scored on the resulting power play.

“Those guys are a lot of fun to play with,” Stephenson said. “They just know where to be and can find each other. I've just got to get the puck to them and just go to the net with your stick on the ice, and they'll find you.”

The top line’s success was a matter of finding instant chemistry as Stephenson had very little time to adjust. The Caps were off on Friday following back-to-back games, and Reirden did not make the switch of putting Stephenson on the top until Saturday’s morning skate.

Putting a new top line together with little time to practice does not seem like an ideal scenario, but according to Kuznetsov, the level of familiarity between all the players made the adjustment quick and easy.

“It doesn't matter with who you play,” he said. “In this locker room, we can communicate with anybody. We don't have a first line, we don't have a fourth line. We try and roll all lines.”

Reirden seemed pleased with the new trio after the game saying, “They did a number of good things during the game as well, so they I thought accomplished a lot. I thought [Stephenson] brought the speed on the forecheck and was able to at least go after their defense a little bit and force some turnovers that Kuznetsov and [Ovechkin] were able to at least get some opportunities from. So I think that's important to have him in that situation.”

Reirden was happy enough with the top line’s performance to keep them together. The team is off Monday, but Stephenson remained on the top line during Sunday’s practice.

But so long as Wilson remains out, finding the right match for the top line will remain a work in progress.

Said Reirden, “We’ll continue to try to put together our four lines that give us the best chance.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

There was a lot of excitement to start the season for the Caps. First, there was the home-opener and the banner raising against the Boston Bruins. Then there was a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the rival Penguins. After that, it was a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights.

And all of that was followed up with a trip to Newark.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

With all due respect to New Jersey, given the slate the Caps faced to start the season, it was no real surprise to see the team struggle to get up for Thursday’s game against the Devils, a game in which the Caps were blown out 6-0. Of all the games Washington faced to start the season, the trip to New Jersey was definitely the least exciting.

But not every game is going to be a big rivalry matchup or a playoff rematch. With every team gunning for the Caps, they better make sure they can get themselves ready for the grind of an 82-game season that won’t always feature a big-time matchup.

A trip to Newark may not be flashy or exciting, but it still counts as two points.

The Caps dropped the game in New Jersey and lost a tight contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Where do they stand now after two straight losses?

FIND OUT HERE IN THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS

MORE CAPS NEWS: