The Washington Capitals have lost three of their last four games. They’re 3-5-2 in their last ten, and they rank sixth in the Metropolitan Division.
While it’s still the early season, and while we’ve got 17 million dollars worth of excuses, now is nonetheless a good time to ask this simple question: Will the Capitals make the playoffs?
Various sources offer playoff projections for teams, all expressed as percentages. From worst to best:
How these models calculate their odds is proprietary, but what’s driving the pessimism isn’t hard to guess. At controlling expected goals, the Capitals rank 24th. Their goals per game rate (all situations) is also 24th. Their power play ranks – you guessed it – 24th. Five-on-five shooting percentages have cratered since October.
Meanwhile, division rivals New Jersey Devils have won ten straight (undefeated since I wrote about them!) The Islanders are on a PDO heater, and the Penguins have strong fundamentals despite a poor record. Carolina’s still elite, and the Rangers look way better than I thought they would. Basically, the competition in the Metropolitan Division is really, really good, and the Capitals are really, really not.
My view so far has been to suspend evaluating Washington’s underlying play until the reinforcements arrive.
That perspective came with the hope that the Caps would steal points wherever they could. That’s just not happening, as the Caps are earning just 44 percent of available points (again: 24th in the league!).
Dmitry Orlov, TJ Oshie, and Beck Malenstyn could be back relatively soon. That sentence contains all hopes for Washington to be not as miserable as they look right now.
This team faced first round elimination in the four straight years. The best news I’ve got right now is that isn’t looking likely to happen again.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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