Thursday, December 13, 2007

Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Today is the three week mark of Bruce Boudreau's tenure behind the bench here in DC - so there is no better time than to look at what has happened to this club since his arrival. (Warning, incoming stats alert...)

- First and most importantly, the Caps are 6-3-1 since Gabby took over - that's 13 out of a possible 20 points, a .650 percentage. If the Caps continue at their current pace over the remaining games they'll have about 92 points...which if you recall was the exact number the Islanders had when they squeaked into the playoffs last year. (By the way, if you stretch that out over a whole 82 game season it would give the Caps 106.6 points.) Thanks to Biff for doing the legwork, aka the math, and for the heads up.

- Before Boudreau the Caps had only managed 3 or more goals seven times; only three of those times did the Caps score at least 4. Since then the Caps have scored 3 or more goals in six of their ten games; four of those games have seen the Caps score at least 4.

- Opponents lit up the Caps for at least 5 goals on six separate occasions to start the season. Since the coaching change it hasn't happened once.

- In the first 21 games of the season the Caps were taking an average of 4.5 penalties per game (which is still an improvement over last year), an average that has dropped in the last 10 games to 3.9 per game.

- The penalty killers have given up only four power play goals in the last ten games and have yet to allow more than one per night, which had happened eight times in their first 21. In addition, the Caps have won twice when allowing a power play goal - something they hadn't been able to do before.

- Just before Hanlon was relieved of his duties the Caps lost five straight, all to divisional opponents. They have played the Southeast five times since then and are 3-1-1 in those games.

- The Caps continue to struggle with injuries, but while before it almost seemed like they were willing to hide behind the excuse of missing their captain or missing someone as key as Boyd Gordon, they're not anymore. They've won four of five despite missing both of those players and a pretty important guy in Nylander as well.

- Balanced scoring is the name of the game for any successful team - we all know it, we see it every day in our opponents, and finally the Caps seem to have found it. It's coming from some unlikely places, too. In the last five games your goal scorers are as follows: Ovechkin (2), Pothier, Semin, Laich, Backstrom (2), Schultz (3), Pettinger, Green (3), Laing and Motzko (2).

- Two key guys over the last ten games have been Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green. Ovechkin has contributed 25% of the team's offense since Boudreau came on - that's actually down from the close to 30% he has over the entire season...and it's down further in the last five games, to about 10%. Meanwhile Mike Green has gone on a tear, scoring 3 goals including the game-winner in overtime last night, and now leads the league in goals by a defenseman. He's also even in +/-...

There is certainly some work left to do. The Caps are still committing far too many turnovers (they had 25 last night, including 3 apiece for Ovechkin and Backstrom...and 5 for Mike Green). There are still times where you sense they're not communicating with one another, and Ovechkin still has an urgency to his game where he seems to be trying to do too much. But there are many positives to draw from and the change in the team is really quite incredible.

As of this morning the Caps sat two points back from Florida, three points back from Atlanta and Buffalo...and six points out of eighth place (aka the Penguins). Anyone ready to throw in the towel just yet?

Gabby says no.


Victor said...

As I recall, at the beginning of the season lot of people were wondering what the Caps saw in Schultz. Now we know, and it took a new coach to bring it out.

He still needs more work on playing D, but the goals help make up for it. Kinda interesting he's wearing Gonchar's number, eh?

Maal said...

All your stats further make the case for the team playing to get Hanlon fired.

And go Mikey with your league-leading goal stats! That's awesome! How long until he's featured on Versus as "the best defenceman you've never heard of?"