Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wow - Caps Are One of 5 Teams Off To a 0.700 or Better Start ...

Wow - The Caps Are One of Only 5 Teams Off To a 0.700 or Better Start ...
Why Don't Things Feel Better?

As of the completion of tonight's games there are only 5 teams in the league playing 0.700 hockey or better - the Washington Capitals with 14 points in 10 games just clear that bar. The other teams who are 0.700 or better are: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche each of whom have 18 points in 11 games (0.818); the Buffalo Sabres with 13 points in 8 games (0.813); and the Calgary Flames with 15 points in 10 games (0.750).

The Capitals current winning streak at four (4) games is also the longest in process streak in the league today. So why don't all of us fans feel more relaxed and confident? Well ... because. Because the team hasn't been winning the way we all thought they'd be winning. The last two wins weren't pretty wins. Of course maybe we're all starting to expect too much. Look at the October schedule...thirteen (13) games, seven home games, six away games, one night of back to backs; eight of thirteen games against 2009 playoff teams. So lets look at things in perspective. To get to 100 points in a season a team has to play 0.609 hockey, the Capitals have been playing 9.1% better than that so far this season and they've done it while playing seven (7) of their ten (10) games thus far against playoff teams. Their record against playoff teams so far this season is 3-2-2 (0.572); against the three non-playoff teams they've faced so far this season and from a record perspective the Caps are a perfect 3-0-0. As far as being competitive against playoff teams, 0.572 isn't too shabby, play that way against those foes come April 2010 and you'll win your fair share seven game of playoff series.

So while it's true that the Caps haven't really blown out the lesser opponents they've faced so far they have won two of those three games in regulation, and in two of the three games, the Caps went out fast and held on. Against the ever pesky (at least for the Capitals) Islanders, the Caps came back from two goals down and pulled out an OT win. Losses against last season playoff teams were generally tight games as well. The Caps lost in OT against the Flyers in Philly - a game where the Caps took 9 minor penalties to the Flyers 6 - including six penalties to the Flyers one during the second period. The Capitals lost to Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers 4-3 (a one goal game) at Verizon Center on 10/8, then traveled to Detroit and lost 3-2 to the Red Wings at the Joe on 10/10. The Caps returned home and battled the Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 shoot out loss at Verizon Center on 10/12. Since then the Caps have had some less then "beautiful" wins but they've been a perfect 4-0-0 including taking down the San Jose Sharks 4-1.

So yes it's a long season, but so far, after sputtering a little out of the gate during the second week of this month, the Caps have gotten things back on track. The Caps host the Flyers on Tuesday night, the Flyers lost tonight to the Sharks 4-1 in Philly. Yes, those same San Jose Sharks who lost to the Caps 4-1 on the first game of a two week East Coast road trip, beat the Flyers 4-1 on the last game of that same road trip. Now the Flyers are 5-3-1 and off to a reasonably good start to the season themselves, though they are just 2-3-1 since they beat the Caps in OT at home two weeks ago. With a little luck Alexander Semin will be healthy and back in the lineup so there's even more firepower in the lineup and to spark the power play unit. Also with a little "luck," if the Caps are in need of some grit, they'll find it in abundance in the lineup starting with summer free agent pickup Mike Knuble looking to make his mark on his former team. One thing for sure, as always it'll be a good game. And, with a little luck the Caps will win it in regulation and everyone else will come to the realization I'm coming to, which is this team isn't going to win every game they win to what will likely be their highest point total ever, with pretty wins. They'll capture a few more two point nights with ugly wins to, but shortly thereafter, when you look at the standings they'll still be in the W column and good for two points.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Mark. Good stuff because, if asked in September would I like to be in first place after 10 games, I would have said 'YES'. In the end all the points look the same and I am happy we are adding them up, pretty or not. That said, I am really happy with Laich's comment "Well get better."

It's a great time to be a Caps fan.

Paul R