Can the Capitals Capture an Elusive Stanley Cup Championship This Season?

The Capitals have soared to the top of the NHL standings. Is this the year they finally win it all?

The Washington Capitals have dominated the NHL this season, and this is no surprise.

Since the reign of Alex Ovechkin began in the 2005-06 campaign, the Capitals have found themselves in the mix of the Stanley Cup playoffs, whether it be scraping in in the final weeks, or cruising to a playoff position in early March.

Despite obvious success in the District of Columbia over the past 11 years, the Capitals have no championships to show for it. In fact, under the Great Eight's tenure as one of the most dominating players in the league, Washington has never made it out of Round 2 of their respective conference's playoff bracket.

This season, it seems that -- after 50 or so games -- that the Capitals are poised to break that streak, with Ovi leading the way.

Per our algorithm, the Caps have some remarkable stats. They play with the efficiency of a team that is 1.15 goals per game better than the average NHL team, are projected to finish with a record of approximately 55-19-8 (totaling roughly 118 points), and own the best Stanley Cup odds of any team in the league, winning 23.28% of the time based on our simulations.

How are they doing it?

Offensive Explosion

Obviously, Ovechkin is not the only reason why the Caps are dominating the league in the way that they are.

The likes of T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, and Andre Burakovsky, are also providing play that has only aided the team from D.C.'s place in the NHL standings.

As it stands, the Capitals are premier in a multitude of statistical categories, per the NHL's official stat page, illustrated below:

Washington Capitals Value NHL Rank
Goals For 174 3rd
Goals Against 110 1st
Goals For per 60 Minutes 3.28 5th
Goals Against per 60 Minutes 2.08 1st
Power Play Percentage 20.6% 13th
Penalty Kill Percentage 84.5% 4th
Shots Allowed per Game 28.4 7th
Face-off Win Percentage 50.5 12th

As we can see, the Capitals are a better than an average team in every category, while being in the top 10 in numerous as well.

These stats, along with the specific possession stats of the players mentioned earlier, further prove that the Capitals are running away with the league at a pace that is unheard of.

We take a look at four specific HERO charts, which show expected performance of players based on ice time and pace, from Own the Puck. These charts of Backstrom, Oshie, Burakovsky, and Ovechkin show exactly what we see from the Capitals as a team, which is an overpowering production rate.

These four instances, three of which we see playing on the Capitals first line, are considerably a focal point to recent and trending success out of the Verizon Center.

Overall, if the Capitals can continue their pace throughout the regular season and into the playoffs, we can imagine them going deep, as this type of play seems to be highly challenging to overcome.

Goaltending Excellence

Now obviously, offense is by far not the only piece to the Capitals' success.

Braden Holtby sits in the top 10 for wins, save percentage, goals against average, shutouts, and goals saved above average. Per Hockey Reference, these values are shown below.

Braden HoltbyValueNHL Rank
Save Percentage92.85%3rd
Goals Against Average1.993rd
Goals Saved Above Average125th
Shots Against1,09114th

With the goaltending of Holtby and the offensive output they're getting, Washington is right where they should be in the standings.

Can the Capitals Make a Run?

If current trends continue and the Capitals maintain their elite efficiency, it seems likely that they will finally make it out of Round 2 to fight for the Stanley Cup.

At this point, the pride of Washington D.C. -- not named the Washington Nationals -- is running as a well-oiled machine.

Only by watching how the final 30 or so games play out will we see the true validity that the Capitals will be taking into the postseason, but as of right now, they are indeed the real deal.