Capitals Hitting Their Stride
By Patrick Hoffman
For the past few seasons, it seemed like the Capitals were unbeatable in the regular season.
Year in and year out, this team seemed to finish at or close to the top of the Metropolitan Division, first in the Eastern Conference, and win a President's Trophy. Unfortunately, this has not been the formula for success in the postseason as the team continues to struggle when it comes to advancing after the second round.
After getting off to an inconsistent start this season, the Capitals have started to win hockey games on a more regular basis again. As of this writing (January 8, 2018), the team is first in the Metropolitan Division, second in the Eastern Conference, and fourth in the entire NHL.
One reason for their success, much like last season, has been the play of their goaltender Braden Holtby. In 32 games, Holtby is 24-8 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
Yes, the numbers are not as good as last season when Holtby won the Vezina Trophy. With that said however, he still makes the big save when his team needs one and he is still perhaps their most consistent player.
Speaking of consistent, the play of their captain Alex Ovechkin has been another reason why this team is back on track to be a contender in the East. The man they call "Ovi" is tied for the league lead in goals with 27 and is first on his team in points with 45.
Ovechkin looks like he is having fun playing again. He's lighting the lamp, he's scoring big goals for his team, and he is showing why he is still one of the best players in the world.
Another reason why this team is playing well right now is because of their head coach Barry Trotz. According to his bio on the team's website, since becoming head coach of the club back in the 2014-15 season, Trotz's Capitals' teams have led the league in wins (159), points (339), goals per game (3.03), goals against average (2.30), and power play percentage (23.4).
Trotz knows how to get his team to play responsibly at both ends of the ice and that is showing this season as well. As of this writing (January 8, 2018), the team in ninth in the league in goals scored (129 goals) and 17th in the league in goals against (119 goals against).
We all know that when it comes to the Capitals, what they do in the regular season never seems to make a difference come playoff time. With that said, ma be this year will be different and their slow start and somewhat inconsistent play will help them learn to overcome adversity when it matters most.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.