Once a week this season, we’re going to take a closer look at the numbers and point out some trends that every Capitals fan should know about.
After nine games, Johansson leads the team in goals (6) and points (11). In fact, his point production is nearly twice that of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who have six points apiece. Johansson has also helped spark a slow starting power play with a pair of tallies the past three games. History says the 26-year-old Swede is unlikely to stay on a 55-goal, 100-point pace but, if he avoids any extended lulls, he might be able to top his best season to date (2014-15, when he totaled 20 goals and 47 points in 82 games). One more factoid: he’s on pace for 164 shots, which would be a career high. He took 132 shots last season and 138 in 2014-15.
The penalty kill has righted itself after allowing a goal in five of the season’s first six games. Over the past three contests, as the coaching staff has tinkered with personnel and distribution of shorthanded ice time, the unit has snuffed out the nine shorthanded situations it’s faced, while vaulting to middle of the pack (81.5 percent) in the NHL. Against the Jets on Tuesday night, Braden Holtby was a big reason the streak remained intact as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner stopped all nine shots the Jets mustered on the power play.
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With two goals in the last three games, Alzner is already halfway to last year’s goal scoring output. Heck, he’s tied for 11th in goals among all defensemen. Sure, it’s a 21-way tie and it’s way early in the season. But still. In all seriousness, like Mojo, Alzner’s hot streak is probably unsustainable. But given the fact that he’s in the last year of his deal, it’s probably not a bad idea to pad those offensive stats a little. And, oh yeah, he’s playing some pretty solid defense, too. He’s third in average ice time for a team that's allowing only 2.00 goals against per game (second best) and 27.2 shots against per game (sixth).
The hardest working guy in hockey has been getting rewarded as of late. He’s racked up three points in the last two games, including the game-winner with 30 seconds remaining Thursday on a play that began with his faceoff win. After nine games, his four points have him tied with T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky for fifth among forward scoring on the Caps.
In two starts, both wins, the backup goalie has been outstanding. In fact, he’s second in the NHL in goals against average (1.00) and fifth in save percentage (.953). He’s also one of 15 goalies to record at least one shutout. More importantly, though, he’s shown the coaching staff that he’s ready and able to shoulder a heavier workload this winter as the team attempts to better manage Holtby’s workload.
First period production
The Capitals have scored first in eight of nine games and are tied for with the Blackhawks for most goals in the opening frame (12). Remember when slow starts were a thing?
He’s tied for the team lead in assists with five, but is the only full-time forward without a goal and has just one multi-point game (the opener). A year ago, Backstrom had four goals and five assists in his first nine contests. I don't suspect it's anything to worry too much about, but he needs to get going here soon.
He’s got one point, a goal, and five minor penalties (team-worst 2.21/ per 60). My eye test, however, says he’s been playing solidly at both ends. So, perhaps, it’s only a matter of time before he begins producing more regularly.
Another guy who seems to be hustling and appears to have had some good chances only to see the puck bounce off his stick, etc. But the numbers are what the numbers are. And right now, he’s got one point, a goal, through nine games. The 35-year-old's shot total is also down. Last year, he finished with 201 shots on goal. With 12 this season, he’s on pace for 109.
With two goals in the past three games, it’s in a much better spot (19th) than it was a week ago. But 15.4-percent still isn’t good enough for a unit with this much talent. It’s a small sample size, sure, but it’s way overdue for a two or three goal breakout.
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