By Leslie Silvey
It’s hard to believe we are already more than halfway through the season and it’s no secret that the Washington Capitals have already claimed their stake at the "top of the class". Now I’m not a huge stats gal, but the achievements this team and its individual players have made at the midway point have garnered admiration from the hockey world at large. The Caps currently sit at the top of an ultra-competitive Eastern Conference with 66 points and are third in the NHL behind Chicago and San Jose.
In addition, the boys lead the league in scoring with 178 goals in 48 games played thus far. In the past seven games alone, the team has tallied a minimum of four goals per game, netting eight against Atlanta and six against a feisty Toronto club!
They also lead the pack in terms of power play goals, with a total of 46. The Caps boast three players (Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nick Backstrom) who sit in the top 14 list of elite players who’ve amassed the most points to date. Ovie sits just one spot below Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin for greatest number of points and Nick Backstrom is quickly gaining ground on Chicago’s Patrick Kane and New York Rangers’ Marian Gaborik. And remember, we’ve got plenty more time for these guys to blow past the competition! Ovie’s beautiful penalty shot against the Flyers on Sunday gave him his 30th goal of the season – he needs just two more goals to take over the top spot held by San Jose’s Patrick Marleau. And kudos to David Steckel, who leads the League in face offs with a 61.7% face off percentage.
And it’s not just the Caps’ offensive corps who have been putting up the pretty numbers. Several defensemen are making quite a name for themselves as well! Jeff Schultz and Mike Green join team mates Ovechkin and Backstrom among the league leaders in plus/minus. Green also sits at the number five spot among all NHLers in assists and is the only player in the league with three eight-game point streaks this season.
The numbers for goaltender Semyon Varlamov aren’t too shabby either! The youngster has recorded a save percentage of .924 and currently ranks seventh on the list of net minders with league-high save percentages, alongside such notables as Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, Evgeni Nabakov (Varly’s fellow team mate on Team Russia) of San Jose and Henrik Lundqvist of the rival New York Rangers. Not bad for a 21-year old who’s seen less than two years of NHL action!
Another interesting stat is the Caps home record. While playing at home, the team has a 16-3-3 record and their three regulation home losses are the fewest in the league. D.C. is definitely a trailblazing "hockey town" now and with all of you fabulous fans out their cheering on the team and rocking your red, the streak is sure to continue!
With all these extraordinary accomplishments at this point in the season, the team is in great shape as we head towards the Olympic break and not so far down the road, the playoff stretch. Hockey Mom rates their performance so far with five gold stars and a solid ‘A’- keep up the great work boys!