A) When trailing after the first period, the Capitals win are the only team in the NHL who win more than 50% of the time. They have a win % of 0.593 while the team in second place to them - the Pittsburgh Penguins only come out on top when trailing after the first period 48.5% of the time. If never saying die is a measure of "heart" the Capitals lead the rest of the NHL by at least 10%.
B) The Caps also lead the rest of the league in winning % when they out shoot their opponent. When out shooting their opponents the Caps are 0.692 while the second place Chicago Blackhawks are 0.639. This is a great statistic, especially when you combine it with the fact the Capitals are third in the NHL in average shots per game with 32.9 behind only Chicago and Detroit who each average 33.2 and 32.9 shots per game respectively.
C) Of course the Capitals also lead the league in the following categories: i)point percentage with 0.736 vs. second place Chicago at 0.683; ii)average goals for per game with 3.88 vs. second place Vancouver who score an average of 3.24 goals per game; iii)wins - so far the Capitals have 48 wins versus second place Phoenix who has 46; iv)power play % - the Caps score on average 25.9% of the time when they have a man advantage, while second place Montreal scores 23.4% of the time in similar situations; and, v) overall team +/-, the Caps are +66 as compared to second place Chicago who is +41.
D) The Caps are just 17th in the league in GA/G with a total of 2.76 goals per game, as compared with the league leading New Jersey Devils who limit their opponents to an average of just 2.34 goals per game. However, the Caps lead the league in 5 on 5 Goals For/Goals Against Ratio with 1.58 goals as compared to second place Vancouver who has 1.29. New Jersey? - they are 10th in the league 1.05.
E) When it comes to successfully closing out games where they are leading after 2 periods, the Capitals only 9th in the league with a winning percentage is 0.882 while the league leading Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings are a perfect 1.000 in that category. Of course the Caps have outright won 66.7% of their games overall, while the Kings have won 58.6% of theirs and the Sabres have only won 54.9% of theirs.
F) In fact the only summary level statistical category where the Capitals are weak and you really can't find any sort of countering statistic that either explains why or mitigates the impact and concern is the Capitals penalty killing statistics. The Capitals PK is a woeful league #24th at 79.1% while the league leading Boston Bruins are 86.2%. Of course last game the PK unit went a perfect 5 for 5, one can only hope the trend here continues and the PK unit improves to at least 85% the rest of the way this season and through the playoffs.
What's this all mean anyway. Bottom line, I think it means two things, and those two things are a bit cliche' and pretty obvious to us all but they bear stating simply and directly:
1) The 2009 - 2010 Washington Capitals are a helluva a good team, possibly the best Capitals team ever, surely current Caps fans hope they go further than ever before.
2) All that probably means at this point is the Caps may well go into the playoffs with home ice advantage throughout. Nothing more, nothing less. In other words come the 2010 playoffs, when once again "history will be made," the Caps and everyone else left in the field will start with a clean slate for the most grueling post season in professional sports. It will be important for them to be ready to scrape and claw, every way possible within the rules, for each and every one of the 16 victories required to win Lord Stanley's Cup.
Having just returned from several days at my Alma Mater, I feel it's appropriate to conclude with the traditional: "That is all, carry on", since the next Caps game isn't until Wednesday evening.