The Washington Capitals’ opening five games of the 2023-24 season have been a disaster. After missing the playoffs last season, the Capitals appear to be that same mess under Spencer Carbery — at least early on.
The Capitals sit at the bottom of the standings. Alex Ovechkin has only one goal in those five games. He also went shotless in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. The fanbase is also feeling these woes as the Capitals recently announced that its sellout streak is over after 14 years.
All of this is not fun. But I’m not writing this to make you feel pain. I believe that better times are coming for this Capitals team. And I want to be able to look back in time and remember just how poorly things began.
So, prepare yourself, after five games, this is where your 1-3-1 Capitals stand across the NHL.
Washington sits last in the Metropolitan Division.
Peter Laviolette’s New York Rangers lead the division with 7 standings points.
There’s only one NHL team that has fewer standings points.
The Capitals sit 30th of 32 NHL teams in the standings. Only the San Jose Sharks (1) have fewer standings points than the Capitals (3).
The Capitals have the second worst goals differential in the NHL.
|32||San Jose Sharks||-15|
The Capitals are one of only three teams that have a goals different that is both negative and double digits. The Colorado Avalanche lead the league with a plus-16 goals differential, which is 28 more than the Capitals.
The Capitals have not held a lead for a single second of a game.
They’ve either been tied or trailed in every game. The only game the Capitals won came in a shootout vicotry against the Calgary Flames. The Caps surrendered a goal to the Flames 47 seconds in and managed to tie with 9:47 into the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov would score the clinching goal in the shootout.
The Capitals are one of two teams that have not scored first in a game.
The only other team is the New Jersey Devils who the Capitals play tonight – the streak must end for one of them.
The Capitals’ top point scorer doesn’t crack the Top 100 in the NHL.
John Carlson, who leads the Capitals with four points, sits 130th in the league in points. League-leader Jack Hughes has 14, 10 more than Carlson.
The Capitals have the third-worst power play in the league.
The Capitals are 1 for 16 on the power play – a staggeringly bad 6.3 percent. The only two teams that are worse are the Anaheim Ducks (5.3 percent) and the Philadelphia Flyers (5 percent). The Blues, Capitals, and Flyers are tied for last in the NHL with fewest PPGs scored as a team (1).
The Capitals have the second worst penalty kill in the league.
The Capitals have killed off only 68.2 percent of the penalties they’ve taken. The only team worse is the Florida Panthers (65.4 percent). Only four NHL teams have given up more power-play goals than the Capitals (7). The Capitals are also one of 17 NHL teams that have not scored a short-handed goal.
The Capitals have scored the fewest five-on-five goals in the league.
The Capitals have only scored four times at five-on-five, worse than any other team. Only eight other teams have scored under double digits in five-on-five goals. The Capitals have been out-scored at five-on-five 11 to 4, which is the worst goals-finished percentage (26.67) in the league.
The Capitals have the seventh-worst shot-attempts percentage.
Process-wise, the Capitals are not much better. The Capitals have a 46.7 shot-attempts percentage at five-on-five, meaning the ice is tilted the other way.. The only teams that are worse are the Tampa Bay Lightning (46.1 percent), New York Islanders (44.7 percent), Detroit Red Wings (43.4 percent), Chicago Blackhawks (42.3 percent), San Jose Sharks (41.7 percent), and St. Louis Blues (39.0 percent).
Now I’ll end this post with something positive. In some ways, Spencer Carbery has ripped the bandaid off this team. What do I mean by that? His system is fast and open – it’s the opposite of Laviolette’s. It depends on quick puck movement and carry-ins. There can’t be standing around.
Carbery’s struggles with the Capitals mirrors his first year as head coach of the Hershey Bears in 2018-19. The Bears sputtered out of the gate too, losing their first five games and 7 of their first 9. They eventually found their mojo (not Marcus Johansson) and won 16 of 17 games from mid January to near the end of February, including 11 in a row at one point.
What I’m saying is, try to keep the faith. It’s early. Things aren’t fun. But it’ll get there.
Headline photo: Katie Adler/RMNB
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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