For some reason, while we spoke I couldn’t stop thinking of February 2013, and how far the Caps have come since then. Get a load of this.
It was February 9, 2013. Katie Carrera’s big piece on the Washington Post had this headline:
George McPhee on Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby: ‘They can both play better’
As of right now, it is physically impossible for Braden Holtby (.930 sv%, 7 shutouts) to play better. Michal Neuvirth is not a concern at all.
Back in 2013, the Caps were suiting up for a game against the Florida Panthers. Here were the forward lines:
Chimera – Ribeiro – Ovechkin
Wolski – Backstrom – Brouwer
Fehr – Perreault – Ward
Hendricks – Beagle – Crabb
At least it wasn’t a top line of Joey Crabb, Jay Beagle, and Alex Ovechkin, which ended a couple weeks earlier. Of that 2013 top six, two (Ribeiro, Wolski) are no longer in the NHL and a third (Brouwer) is barely hanging on.
Today, from Elyse’s pregame, here are the forwards:
Ovechkin – Backstrom – Oshie
Johansson – Kuznetsov – Williams
Connolly – Eller – Burakovsky
Winnik – Beagle – Wilson
The 2013 Caps team had a possession score of 49.2 percent (not horrible for 12 games into a shortened season) on this day four years ago.
Today it’s 52.3 percent, third best in the NHL. In the standings the Caps are in first place overall instead of the bottom of their division. Their 61.9 all-situation goal percentage is the highest the league has seen in the advanced stat era, with 3.3 goals per 60 minutes (8th among 300 teams) and 2.0 opponent goals per 60 (3rd among 300 teams).
There is one thing that the Caps of 2013 had in common with the Caps of today. On February 9, 2013, the Caps beat the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-0.
Even Ted Leonsis knows it won’t be this good forever, but for now, it’s a comforting reminder of two truths: