Can the Capitals Capture an Elusive Stanley Cup Championship This Season?
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?
Obviously, Ovechkin is not the only reason why the Caps are dominating the league in the way that they are.
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 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.
Now obviously, offense is by far not the only piece to the Capitals' success.
|Braden Holtby||Value||NHL Rank|
|Goals Against Average||1.99||3rd|
|Goals Saved Above Average||12||5th|
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.