Monday, February 09, 2009

History, Part I

Time for a history lesson, kids...

Last year, the Capitals finished the season in a big way. Fans remember them winning 11 of their last 12 games to finish at the top of the Southeast Division. But what fans might not remember as much was that from February 1st to the end of the year, the Caps were 19-8-3 for 41 points in the standings. It was the sixth time in franchise history that the Caps earned 40 or more points from February 1st forward.

Twice in franchise history the Caps have earned as many as 45 points after the end of January. In 1999-2000 Washington went 20-8-4-1 for their 45 points, while the 1985-1986 team went 21-7-3 for their 45 points.

However, the standard for comparison might be the 1983-1984 team. That club went 21-6-1 for 43 points (1.54 points earned-per-game, the most of any Caps team in the post-January portion of the season). There are some things about that team worth noting…

- Only once did the 1983-1984 team endure a losing streak after January 31st. That’s right, only once did they lose consecutive games, a three game losing streak from February 19-25 (all road games, all against Campbell – “Western” – Conference teams… some things don’t change).

- Keep in mind, this was the 1980’s, a time characterized by a lot of goal scoring. The Caps allowed more than three goals in a game only four times in the last 28 games after January 31st. They lost them all.

- 12 of the 21 wins registered by the Caps were by three or more goals. Ten times they scored at least five goals in a game (they won them all). Overall, they outscored their opponents 115-58 (4.11 – 2.07 per game).

- The Caps had two winning streaks in excess of five games – an eight-game streak from February 2-18 (part of a longer ten-game streak that started on January 27th) and a six-game streak from March 1-11.

- Oh, and the Caps were 4-0 against the Penguins after January 31st (6-1-0 for the year), outscoring them 24-6 in the four games.

That 1983-1984 team was the first of four teams in Capitals history to record more than 100 standings points (48-27-5, 101 points). If there was one word to describe it, it would be “balanced.” 13 players had 10 or more goals, seven had at least 20 (including a current Caps announcer). 19 players had ten or more points, six had at least 50 (including that guy again). 15 different players had game-winning goals. In a more subtle expression of the team’s balance, if you look at the top-ten scorers for that team, only one registered more goals than assists (Bobby Gould, and he was the tenth leading scorer on that club). They spread the puck around, and this was a team with both Mike Gartner and Bobby Carpenter, two excellent goal scorers in their own right.

The Caps are 3-1-0 to start their post-January sprint to the end of the regular season. It’s far too soon to gauge whether this club has the finishing kick to propel it forward in the standings, but if you’re looking for a standard against which to measure this team, the 1983-1984 team looks to be the Capitals team to have set the bar.

We just hope they advance farther in the playoffs than that club did...

1 comment:

TJ CAPS8 said...

Nice work stat boy! That's pretty darn impressive, and I for one had no idea they had been that clutch down the stretch historically.

Here's hoping for a season that goes well into the month of June topped with some hardware for the old trophy case.