Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sittin' at the end of the bar...Road Trip Edition

How ‘bout those Caps? Six road games, and they won four of them. And along the way…

-- They outscored their six opponents, 15-11

-- After having so much trouble scoring in the first period, they finished the trip with seven first period goals. They gave up only three, none in the last four games.

-- Four times they scored the first goal…four times they won

-- Twice they allowed the first goal…twice they lost.

-- The power play looked like it was emerging from its slumber with two goals on five attempts in the first game of the trip in Montreal. Then it went 1-for-13 in the last five games to finish 3-for-18 (16.7 percent).

-- Three goals on 21 shots for the power play; 21 shots on 18 power plays. Not especially good math.

-- On the other hand, the penalty killers were even better than their season to date. They killed 17 of 18 shorthanded situations (94.4 percent).

-- One goal allowed on 22 shots by opponents…a .955 save percentage for the goalies.

-- Speaking of the goalies, Michal Neuvirth went 2-1-0, 2.28, .931, and a shutout. Braden Holtby was 2-0-0, 1.00, .955, and a shutout. Semyon Varlamov was 0-1-0, 2.06, .913. Overall, that’s 4-2-0, 1.82, .935, and two shutouts.

-- For the skaters, it was the young and the old at the top of the score sheet. Mike Knuble led all Caps with four goals on the trip and tied for the team lead with three assists. The seven points topped all Caps in total scoring. Rookie Marcus Johansson was next in goal scoring with three and had an assist to tie for second in overall scoring with four points. John Carlson matched the four points, as did Alex Ovechkin (who missed the last three games of the trip) and Nicklas Backstrom (who missed the first two games of the trip).

-- Ten different Caps shared in the 15 goals scored. Jeff Schultz got his first of the year, and Marco Sturm recorded his first as a Cap. Dennis Wideman also scored his first goal in a Washington jersey.

-- Fifteen different Caps had points. Even players who rarely record points found their way to the score sheet. Scott Hannan had a pair of assists (to bring him to 1-4-5 in a Caps uniform), and D.J. King had an assist for his second point of the season.

-- Eight goals were scored in the Caps-Flyers game that the Caps won, 5-4, in a Gimmick. Dennis Wideman was on the ice for all eight goals.

-- The Caps finished the trip winning only 48.3 percent of their draws. Brooks Laich (41.9 percent) and Marcus Johansson (36.5 percent) struggled more than most. Boyd Gordon, on the other hand, won 57.5 percent of his draws.

-- One might expect that the Caps would miss Alex Ovechkin’s physical play as much as his scoring (well, almost as much). The Caps were credited with 54 hits in the first three games of the trip, Ovechkin recording ten of the hits and the rest of the club getting 44. In the last three games – those which Ovechkin missed – the Caps recorded a total of 47 hits.

-- Adding the takeaways the Caps had and the giveaways their opponents had and comparing the sum of those to the opposite numbers for opponents, the Caps won the turnover battle in five of the six games (tied in the sixth) and won overall by a 110-85 margin.

-- The last win on the trip was the club’s 22nd road victory of the season, tying this year’s Caps for second in the club’s record book for road wins with the 1983-1984 club that went 22-16-2.

In the end, the Caps had a successful road trip. Yes, it would have been nicer had the Caps not laid an egg in Ottawa, but winning four of six contests on the road, four of them against playoff-eligible teams and another against a club fighting for its playoff life with a spectacular run to get there. And the Caps won four of those five games, losing the other by a single goal. Given the absences of Nicklas Backstrom for two of the games, Alex Ovechkin for three, and Mike Green for the entire tour, it was an especially welcome result. It demonstrated the sort of resilience the team is going to need as they head into the second season that starts in just a few weeks.