Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Strike Up the Band, Send in the Clowns, Because...’s time for the spectacular 1/8 of a season recap/preview/analysis smorgasbord extravaganza!!! With 11 games down, 71 to go, and two days until they take the ice again, it seems like an appropriate time to take a look at where the Caps have been and where they’re going...

Preseason/Training Camp – with the loss of veterans Brian Willsie and Jeff Halpern over the offseason, there were many questions surrounding the team that now had an average age of just under 27 years old and 11 players under the age of 25. Key pickups in the offseason included enforcer Donald Brashear, defenseman Brian Pothier, and former Cap Richard Zednik. The rest of the roster would be filled out by players coming off of career years and young players coming off a Calder Cup championship.

The Caps finished the preseason with a record of 3-2-1, which means going into the season they had exactly...0 points. That’s right, all that work and little reward. But it was nice to see the guys start off strong. While it may not mean anything on the big board, a good preseason start can help build confidence for a young team trying to rise above expectations.

Season Opener – Despite a good preseason run, the Caps wandered into Madison Square Garden on October 5 and proceeded to stumble through 3 weak periods, eventually falling to the Evil one and his Empire (aka Jagr and the Rangers...but what’s in a name?) by a score of 5-2.

Home Opener (aka the real season opener) – Their second attempt at a win was much more successful as the Caps hosted the defending Stanley Cup Champ Hurricanes 2 days later. Armed with "Let’s Go Caps" scrolls, the hometown crowd cheered on the team to a 5-2 victory, a strong showing with few mishaps that (almost) erased the memory of that first horrible loss. Semin would net his first career hat trick and Ovechkin would add 2 more of his own in a Russian superstar explosion.

As It Stands:

  • The Caps are 4-3-4 in their first 11 games, picking up 12 points and barely squeaking into that coveted #8 spot in the conference.
  • They currently rank 12th in average goals per game with 3.18, and have allowed 3.18 goals per game for a league ranking of 21st. The power play is clicking at an effectiveness rate of 17% for 13th overall – to put that into perspective, San Jose leads the league with 27.5% effectiveness with the extra man, while Philly brings up the rear connecting only 8% of the time...
  • Penalty killing is ranked 19th with an 81.8% effectiveness.
  • The Caps are currently 30th overall in shots allowed, averaging a horrific 36.8 per game. Olie and Johnny will be sharing a nice padded cell soon if this keeps up.
  • The Caps recently completed the longest road swing of the season and the last time they will leave the Eastern Time zone for the rest of the season. They earned 5 out of the 8 possible points, finishing the 4-game trip with a record of 2-1-1.

Individual Performances:

  • Alexander Semin is ranked 31st in the league with 8 goals and 4 assists for 12 points; Alex Ovechkin is not far behind, sitting at 33rd with 6 goals and 6 assists. Among left wings, Semin and Ovie are ranked 9th and 11th respectively.
  • Brian Pothier has 9 assists, 3rd best among all defenseman. He is ranked 15th in points among blueliners and is tied with 11 others, including fellow Cap Shaone Morrisonn, with a +/- of 4.
  • Olie Kolzig has faced 295 shots, 8th most overall. He is ranked 14th with a save percentage of .915, besting Vezina winner Miikka Kiprusoff and Stanley Cup MVP Cam Ward.
  • Kris Beech is ranked 9th in the league in faceoff percentage, winning 55.5% of the time.

Up Next: Part 2 of 2 – a look at what’s ahead for the Caps in their next 4 games...

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