The Washington Capitals gave us a compelling win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night. Now, with key players starting to return from injury, they have the opportunity to actually be, ya know, good. Sunday’s date with the Edmonton Oilers, themselves a talented but underperforming team, is a good chance to start one of those things where you win multiple consecutive games, I forget what those are called, it’s been so long.
The game is at 7 PM, it airs on the National Broadcasting Company Sports Washington channel, and I have the honor of providing your recap.
|Shot Attempt %||52.9%||48.3%|
By way of the esteemed Ms. Khurshydyan of the Washington Post, we’ve got some changes in the lines.
Stephenson – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – DSP
Vrana – Eller – Wilson
Connolly – Beagle – Chiasson
Djoos – Carlson
Orpik – Bowey
Orlov – Chorney
Connor McDavid and Nicklas Backstrom are both excellent players, though I imagine only the first one will get the “generational” adjective put on him regularly.
When McDavid hits the ice, he increases his team’s shot-attempt rate by 10 attempts per hour. He’s an electric forward. Backstrom’s role is a little different – he slows the opponent’s shot-attempt rate by 14 attempts per hour. I’m confident that Barry Trotz will use Backstrom against McDavid tonight. Let’s see how it turns out.
Whenever I whine about the Capitals, which I guess I do a lot (I’m sorry), some folks tell me I’m not considering the Caps’ injuries heavily enough. The above graph, from NHL Injury Viz, offers some important context: The Caps aren’t special. Based on the cap hit of injured players, the Caps are middle of the pack, miles from the hockey Antietam that is the Ducks right now. Matt Niskanen plays a massive role on the defense, and it’ll be tremendous when he returns (it’ll do wonders for Brooks Orpik to return to a lower role, and it could help the team immeasurably later on if John Carlson stops playing a half an hour every night). But the Caps aren’t special in this respect. Injuries are an inevitability for every team in this sport, and it’s just an accident of history that the Caps had been relatively unscathed over the last two seasons.
Headline image: Patrick Smith
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.