So despite having a game that looks well played by the Capitals on the score sheet, the Caps came away with a disappointing "goose-egg" for the third game in a row. If you want to ponder why, I don't think you need to look far, compare these two numbers: 0.857 and 0.921 - that's Holtby's SV% vs. Bishop's SV% in this game. Bottom line is the Caps need their goaltenders to put up at least a 0.900 and preferably a 0.920+ SV% to make the current system they are playing a consistently successful recipe. Also I'm not saying "Save Percentage" is an individual statistic - it's no more an individual statistic than face off% is and lots of people have been writing about that for years. It is however a statistic that starts and ends with the goaltenders, to achieve a 0.920+ SV% in the NHL a goalie has to stop 98.5+% of the shots "he's supposed to stop" and at least 65% of the shots that leave you wondering "how did he stop that one." Last night the guy who did that for his team was named Ben Bishop - that's why he was deservedly the third star of the game. Just go back and look at the Capitals four "no point" and two "one point" games and examine the Caps team SV% in those games - how many are 0.900 or better - the answer is three:
- October 9: Montreal 2 - Capitals 1 (SO) - Dustin Tokarski outdueled Braden Holtby 0.967 to 0.958.
- October 18: Capitals 2 - Florida 1 (SO) - Justin Peters posted a 0.952 SV% in a game at Verizon Center that opposing goalie Al Montoya almost stole for the Panthers with a 0.963 SV%.
- October 26: Canucks 4 - Capitals 2 - Justin Peters posted an identical SV% to Ryan Miller 0.909; unfortunately the Canucks outplayed the Capitals coming in this second game of a back to back in Western Canada and outshot the Caps in the second period during which five of the games six goals were scored.
October 14: San Jose 6 - Capitals 5 (SO) -Sharks scored 3 goals on first seven SOG, Holtby was pulled, Caps team SV% for the game 0.782 (vs 0.879 for Niemi and the Sharks.)
October 22: Edmonton 3 - Capitals 2 - Holtby stopped 17 of 20 for a 0.850 SV% while Ben Scrivens posted a SV% 0.941 stopping 32 of 34 SOG.
October 29: Detroit 4 - Capitals 2: Holtby stopped 18 of 22 SOG for a SV% of 0.818; Jimmy Howard stopped 25 of 27 for a 0.926 SV.
Last Night: Holtby's SV% 0.857; Ben Bishop's SV% 0.921.
So that's why I've concluded the Caps need to have their goaltender have a SV% of at least 0.900 and preferably 0.920. Think about it - combine that with the way the Caps are generally limiting opposing teams to less than 30 Shots On Goal and that means the Team's GAA would be less than 2.50 GPG while with the offensive firepower and talent they have it's difficult for most teams in the League to hold them to less than 3 goals, unless their goaltender has an exceptional game.
In any case for at least the next month or so when I close a blog post with "Lets Go Caps" it will mean I'm really hoping for the Caps netminders to post a 0.920 SV% or better in the upcoming game, as well as for their forwards to tear up the back of the opposition's net with those awesome, sick, unbelievable shots and plays we've all come to get really excited about.
This evening, the Caps return home to take on the Arizona Coyotes, it will be a tough game but it's another one the Caps need to win. Right now they are 0.500, 4-4-2 on the season, and yes that is as mediocre as it sounds and looks, this team, IMO, is "better than that." I think they all feel that way too, you could go look at all the fancy stats, etc and confirm the team has a LOT more potential than the current overall record and especially the last three games seem to evidence, but at the end of the day, the record is what it is and the players all need to, as dumb as it sounds, just do better. The team they are facing is also looking at having lost their last three outings and they are below 0.500 with a 3-6-1 record. They won't be an easy two points for the Capitals and to win this game, the Caps need to play the game hard - not like a team that lost a disappointing game last night. As you can see from the the Look Ahead and Prognostication over at Peerless - the Caps should win this game. Now they just have to play the game on the ice, the way the current statistics portend.