Tonight the Capitals travel to Atlanta to take on the Atlanta Thrashers at Phillips Arena. They'll be facing a team that they needed to hold off from a come back to win 5-4 last week. However, this will be Atlanta's first game without star, leading scorer and Captain Ilya Kovalchuk who broke his foot since the last game with the Capitals. The Thrashers will likely come out flying and "loaded for bear" since they'll want to prove they aren't a "one trick pony". While the Thrashers are no longer a "one trick pony" in the end if the Capitals play their game plan and play like they did the first two periods of last week's game and stay focused, they'll win their sixth game in a row before returning to DC to take on the Islanders tomorrow night at the Phone Booth. However, the Capitals have been juggling their own line-up to accommodate the ever changing "sick & injured" reports so it won't be a cake walk. The Caps will need to ensure that neither Nik Antropov, Bryan Little, or Slava Kozlov are allowed to make up for the lost production Kovalchuk's absence from the Atlanta lineup creates.
Prediction: Caps 4 - Thrashers 2.
There has been an increasing buzz here in the Caps blogsphere about a lack of secondary scoring, as well as the definition of it. I figured I'd take a look around the league and compare the other teams and their secondary scoring vs. the Capitals. After Tuesday night's game against the Flyers only 10 of their 41 goals (24.3%) have come from someone who is not a forward on the top two lines, if you take Mike Green's 2 tallies out of that mix it's 8 of the 41 (19.5%). So I figured I'd look at the other teams in the top of the league both in points and goals scored and compare their sources of production compared to the Capitals. Aside from the Capitals I figured I'd look at the other leading teams in the Eastern Conference, as well as the Western Conference teams with 40 or more goals scored to date for comparisons.
First let's characterize the Capitals offensive production not counting the top six forwards - 10 goals from seven (7) different players including 3 from Matt Bradley and 2 from Mike Green. Only one Capital other than "the big six" has a Game Winning Goal (GWG) thus far. However, the Capitals total offensive production of 41 goals in 11 games; 24.3% from "secondary scoring" - goals from sources other than their top two lines.
Other Eastern Conference teams who are currently in the top eight in the standings:
1) Pittsburgh Penguins - 20 points in 12 games; 43 goals scored. Of their 43 goals, 23 (53.4%) have come off of sticks that belong to players not part of their top two forward lines; 2 players other then their top 6 forwards (Sergei Gonchar and Tyler Kennedy) have scored 4 game winning goals.
2) New York Rangers - 17 points in 13 games; 47 goals scored. Of their 47 goals, 22 (46.8%) have come from secondary scoring including 11 off the sticks of their blue line corps. Of those 22 goals from secondary scorers, 5 have been game winners.
3) Philadelphia Flyers - 11 points in 1o games; 33 goals scored. Of their 33 goals, 11 (33.3%) have come from secondary scoring, however no one other than their top six have scored a game winning goal to date.
4) Buffalo Sabres - 15 points in 9 games, 30 goals scored. Of their 30 goals, 10 (33%) have come from secondary scoring, including 3 from veteran off season pick-up Mike Grier. Secondary scorers have scored 4 of their 6 game winners to date.
5) Ottawa Senators - 14 points in 10 games; 34 goals scored. Of their 34 goals scored, 16 (67.6%) have come from secondary scoring (good thing too since Jonathan Cheechoo and Jason Spezza are both yet to score their first goal of the season.) However only one (1) of their six (6) GWG's to date have come off the stick of a secondary scorer.
6) Montreal Canadeans - 12 points in 12 games; 31 goals scored. Twelve (12) of their 31 goals(38.7%) scored to date including 3 of 5 GWG have come off the sticks of secondary scorers.
7) New Jersey Devils - 12 points in 10 games; 27 goals scored. Eight (8) of their 27 goals (29.6%) have been scored by other then their top five scorers, their top "stud", Patrik Elias, has yet to play this season as he is on IR. However 3 of the 4 GWG recorded to date have been by secondary scorers.
Western Conference Teams with 40 or more goals scored to date:
1) Colorado Avalanche - 22 points in 13 games; 44 goals scored. Seventeen (17) of their goals to date (40.9%) have come from secondary scoring including 5 of their 9 GWG.
2) Los Angeles Kings - 16 points in 12 games; 44 goals scored (doesn't include goals or points from last night's late game against the San Jose Sharks). Twelve (12) of their 44 goals (27.3%) of their total production has come from secondary scoring including 4 of 8 GWG.
3) Dallas Stars - 16 points in 12 games; 41 goals scored. Fourteen (14) of their 41 goals (34.1%) have been the result of secondary scoring including three (3) of their six (6) GWG.
4) Calgary Flames - 15 points in 11 games; 43 goals scored. The Flames may be the poster children of secondary scoring this season. Twenty Two (22) of their 43 goals (51.2%), a total of seventeen (17) different Flames have scored goals so far this season. Leading the secondary scoring parade is defenseman Dion Phaneuf with five goals so far this season. Five (5) of Calgary's six (6) GWG to date have come from other than top six forwards as well.
5) San Jose Sharks - 15 points in 12 games; 42 goals scored (doesn't include numbers from last night's late game with the Kings). Fourteen (14) of their 42 goals (33.33%) scored so far this season have been the result of secondary scoring. Two (2) of seven (7) GWG have been from secondary scorers.
So while I've been asking how many other leading teams have at least 10 goals from secondary scoring so far this season, the answer is - 10 of them. That said the Caps 10 goals from secondary scoring while fewer than any of those other 11 teams except the New Jersey Devils, it is basically a respectable absolute number since the range is 8 (the Devils) to 23 (Pittsburgh). However only five teams have 15 or more goals as a result of secondary scoring: Pittsburgh, Calgary, the Rangers, Colorado, and Ottawa. Some of the reason for the Caps being somewhat off the pace (24% vs 33%) on secondary scoring so far this season may well be the fact they really haven't had a big need for it so far this season, though it would be nice to know if they needed it, it was there. There's really no reason it should be off since the current Caps lineup has more then enough firepower both on the third and fourth lines as well as on the blueline, this season.
Now on to Atlanta ...
LETS GO CAPS!!!