We’ve looked at the positions, now it’s time to get to the specialties. First up is the power play…
There are two elements to this, one of which is obvious. We’ll start with that.
There isn’t really much difference among the four teams in terms of outcomes. All four were effective – all had a differential of about a goal a game to the good side.
Capitals (projected top unit): Alexander Ovechkin, Michael Nylander, Alexander Semin, Tom Poti, Chris Clark
My favorite movie of all time is “The Wizard of Oz” (go figure). And my favorite movie speech of all time belongs to the Cowardly Lion…
What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?
Well, what do the four teams above got that the Caps ain’t got? And don’t say, “courage.” No, it’s a real-life center and defenseman who have some familiarity and success with a power play. Look at those four teams and the power play scoring of their top center and top defenseman:
Meanwhile, the Caps had Dainius Zubrus (9-12-21) and Brian Pothier (2-13-15). 36 total points from this pair would have rendered them at or below all but Carle and McDonald among the eight individual players above. Any wonder the Caps finished 24th in power play conversion and 19th in total power play goals scored? 49 percent of the power play goals (33) and 43 percent of total power play scoring (75 points) came from two wingers – the Alexes.
Here is another set of numbers to chew on…the Caps generated only 108 assists for 67 total power play goals last year – 1.61 assists per goal.
It is not hard to imagine that the single biggest area of improvement for the Caps this year will be here, on the power play. The Caps did not suffer for chances last year – they were tied for eighth in the NHL in total power play opportunities. It was simply a case of too much of the power play running – by virtue of necessity – through the two wingers, Ovechkin and Semin. The effects of the additions of Michael Nylander and Tom Poti are likely to be felt here as much or more than in any other area. Nylander had 37 power play points last year (14 goals/23 assists); Poti had 32 points (six goals, 26 assists). Matching those numbers this year would put those two on a par with
The Caps do not have a Joe Thornton on the roster, although in time Nicklas Backstrom might (and that would be the operative word here) approach