The Washington Capitals hung on to beat the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. With the victory, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette accomplished a bit of history.
Laviolette tied Jim Schoenfeld for the winningest start in franchise history as a new head coach.
Through his first 20 games as head coach of the Capitals, Laviolette is 11-5-4 (26 points), tied for the best 20-game start by a head coach in franchise history (Jim Schoenfeld: 11-5-4-0, 26 points).
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 27, 2021
Laviolette accomplished the feat despite a bunch of injuries and losing five of the team’s best players — Alex Ovechkin, Jakub Vrana, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov — to the NHL’s COVID-19 Unavailability List for varying stretches of time. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Capitals had the third most man-games lost to injury in the NHL.
Through Wednesday's games, NHL top 5 teams, man-games lost to injury and illness.
— Man-Games Lost NHL (@ManGamesLostNHL) February 26, 2021
The team is also installing a new system.
“We’re definitely not satisfied still,” John Carlson said. “We still have a lot to learn, a lot to clean up, and a lot we can improve on is the main thing.”
Laviolette’s Capitals went undefeated in regulation during January (6-0-3). After losing four straight to start February, the Capitals went 5-1-1 during their next seven games. They’ve earned an NHL-best 11 points during that span. They lead the East Division with 26 standings points, but they have two games in hand over Boston and three games in hand over Philadelphia.
While the stat is neat, Laviolette did inherit a team that spent to the top of the salary cap, has two of the greatest players in NHL history (Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom), and is the most veteran club in the NHL. They’re also getting lucky, featuring a 1.02 PDO (fourth-highest in the league), and connecting at an unsustainable rate on the power-play (30.8 percent).
Regardless, Lavy and his coaching staff pieced this together and they deserve congratulations.
And maybe one of those sweet ninja headbands.
Look at these happy boys!!! pic.twitter.com/dPcaGGoFkQ
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 27, 2021
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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