“I’m an anteater!” “I, also, am an anteater!” (Photo: Bruce Bennett)
Some time in the last seven days, Adam Oates became unsatisfied with his lineup. Perhaps not winning a game in regulation since November 17th was the reason why; no matter. On the 23rd, Oates scratched Martin Erat, who had requested a trade, from the Toronto Maple Leafs game. In Erat’s spot was Eric Fehr, who played every game this week and recorded three points. On the 29th, Oates restored Jay Beagle, who had not played since October 16th but apparently is in awesome shape, to active service. And with Brooks Laich still laid up with a lower-body injury on Saturday, Martin Erat got his sweater back and reclaimed the spot where he started the season: the 4th line.
That’s more moving and shaking than we’ve seen all season, and our numbers reflect it. It seems that the Capitals are now motivated to make changes, and some of those changes have already paid off. The losing streak is over, and the even-strength Capitals are stronger than we’ve seen all year.
These are the numbers as of noon on Sunday, December 1st. My sample doesn’t include power play or penalty kill situations– just 5-on-5 play while the score is within one goal in the first two periods and tied in the third. That eliminates the effects of blowouts and comebacks, when teams are protecting a lead or desperate to get a goal back. Stats of note are highlighted in a powderpuff pink and discussed below.
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