Sunday, January 02, 2022

Washington Capitals: That Was The Week That Was - Week 12

Week 12 saw the Washington Capitals return to something resembling normalcy after a 10-day hiatus brought on by COVID-related issues that forced a league-wide pause until after the Christmas break.  It was a successful week for the Caps who rebounded from a rare losing week (ok, it was one game, one loss).  The Caps wrapped up the week in a tie with Carolina and Tampa Bay for the league lead in standings points earned (47).

Record (2-0-0)

Week 12 was the tenth winning week this season, the seventh week in which the Caps did not lose a game in regulation and the second time they did not lose a game in any situations, regulation or overtime.  The Caps have been successful at putting together winning mini-streaks and avoiding losing min-streaks.  The two wins represented the sixth time this season that the Caps put together consecutive wins or more.  They have yet to lose consecutive games in regulation, have had only two instances of consecutive losses of any type, and have a single three-game losing streak (0-2-1 to start November).  The Caps have built a solid record on the basis of consistency and perseverance, not streaky play.

Offense: 4.00 / game (season: 3.45 / T-5th)

Six Capitals shared the eight goals scored for the week, another indicator of balance and consistency.  Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a pair of goals to lead the team.  Thirteen Caps had points, six of them with multi-point weeks, led by John Carlson with five points (1-4-5).  Carlson finished the week second among defensemen in points (31, behind only Victor Hedman’s 34), and he was tied for fifth in goals scored (seven).  Carlson and Florida’s Aaron Ekblad were the only defensemen to finish the week with at least five goals, at least 25 points, and rating of plus-10 or better for the season. 

Overall, the Caps finished the week with 31 of 32 skaters to dress this season having recorded at least one point.  Only Alex Alexeyev, who has appeared in only one game, was without a point. Although the Caps did not welcome any new members to the goal scoring ledger in Week 12, they still have 23 different skaters with at least one goal.

Defense: 2.00 / game (season: 2.55 / 5th)

There is little mystery about how the Caps held opponents to four goals in two games.  The allowed only 40 shots on goal, the 20.0 shots per game being fewest allowed in the league for the week.  The Caps have allowed 25 or fewer shots on goal 12 times so far this season, including their last three games through Week 12. 

Unfortunately for Dmitry Orlov, he happened to be on ice for three of the four even strength goals against, most for the week for the Caps.  On the encouraging side, the Caps had scoring forwards – Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie – finished the week having been on ice for no even strength goals against.

The Caps allowed only 64 shot attempts at 5-on-5, second lowest in the league among teams playing two games (Carolina: 54).  It left the Caps a plus-107 in shot attempts, for and against, at 5-on-5 for the season through Week 12.

Goaltending: 2.00 / .900 (season: 2.46 / .912 / 4 shutouts)

Ilya Samsonov got the call in both games in Week 12, and he did what he had to do – he won.  He did not suffer a heavy workload, which can sometimes be difficult on a goalie, especially young ones.  He finished the week as the only one of 20 goalies with ten or more wins to have two losses in regulation.  That he should finish the week with a .900 save percentage and win both games is not unusual.  In his 13 wins through 12 weeks, he finished with a save percentage under .900 six times.

Power Play: 1-for-9 / 11.1 percent (season: 15.2 percent / 28th).

The suckitude continues.  After going 1-for-9 for the week, the Caps are 2-for-30 in their last 11 games (6.7 percent), and they have not had a multiple power play goal game since October 27th, when they had 2 in a 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit.  This week’s disappointment was coming up small on nine power play chances in two games, fourth in the league for the week in power play chances per game (4.50).

Penalty Killing: 7-for-7 / 100.0 percent (season: 82.6 percent / 9th)

At least half of the special teams complement is performing.  One does not like seeing seven opportunities allowed, but fans will take a perfect week on the penalty kill under any circumstances.  It was a bit unusual for the Caps to allow as many chances as they did, still finishing the week with 2.61 shorthanded situations faced per game, fifth-fewest in the league.  On the other hand, the chances allowed have creeped up lately, the Caps allowing 19 power plays against over their last five games after a four-game run in which they did not face more than one shorthanded situation.  The Caps have had ten games through 12 weeks in which they allowed one or no power play chances to opponents.

Faceoffs: 42-for-105 / 40.0 percent (45.3 percent / 32nd)

Well, here we are…dead last in the league.  We will not play this broken record again only to say that but for the sake of Nic Dowd (16-for-28 this week (57.1 percent) and 143-for-284 this season (50.4 percent, the only Cap with more than 50 draws taken over 50 percent), this would be an historically bad season in the circle.  Since 1997-1998, this year’s club has the worst faceoff winning percentage of any edition of the Caps (45.3 percent).

Goals by Period

The defense started and ended well, allowing no goals in either the first or third periods, which makes the four goals in second periods stand out a bit more.  Still, good starts and good finishes are always a good thing.  Those no goals allowed by the Caps in first periods was hardly out of the ordinary.  They allowed only 17 first period goals through Week 12, fourth-fewest in the league.  On the other end, the 42 goals scored by the Caps in third periods ranked tied for third after 12 weeks of the season.


The year-over-year records are almost indistinguishable, but this year’s team appears to be more stingy on defense with nine fewer goals allowed through 33 games, 29 fewer shots on goal allowed, and 19 fewer shot attempts at 5-on-5 allowed.  Add to this 15 fewer shorthanded situations faced, and it is a club that has established an effective defensive identity.

In the end…

There have been hiccups along the way this season (mostly on the matter of overtime performance), but this team has been consistent and persistent in stringing together winning weeks.  It is the kind of pattern that could prove valuable down the road, avoiding the gaudy winning streaks followed by extended losing streaks that can derail a team postseason time.  It is the kind of performance pattern that seems resistant to prolonged slumps, and Caps fans should be happy with that profile.

Three Stars

  • First Star: John Carlson (1-4-5, plus-3, nine shots on goal, four even strength goals scored while on ice (tied for team lead), 25:15 in average ice time (led team))
  • Second Star: Alex Ovechkin (2-1-3, plus-3, took over all-time lead in power play goals scored in NHL history, 11 shots on goal, 22:58 in average ice time (second on team, led forwards)
  • Third Star: Evgeny Kuznetsov (2-1-3, even, one power play goal, one shorthanded goal, 21:04 in average ice time)