Seven on Seven: Seven tid-bits about the Washington Capitals' seven game winning streak

The Washington Capitals have extended their winning streak to seven games, appropriately dispatching the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night with seven goals. Despite being two men down on two occasions during the night, the Capitals only allowed one goal on Detroit’s 33 shots. To commemorate the Capital’s impressive streak, here’s a list of seven bits of trivia and stat analysis.

1. Every Caps fan knows about Alexander Ovechkin and his knack for scoring. But what has been so crucial to Washington’s victories this season has been their production from sources other than their superstars. 16 of their league-leading 29 goals have come from their 3rd or 4th line, or from the defense. Even without the 13 goals from their first two lines, the Capitals would have more goals than 11 teams in the league. It’s this depth of skill that makes Washington so dangerous.

2. Another stat that’s highly representative of a team’s success and offensive prowess is how efficient their power-play unit is. Two years ago, when Washington won the President’s Trophy, they far outscored their opponents, and led the league in power play goals.  Last year, they converted to a more conservative style, and their production severely dropped off. So far, just as they lead the league in overall goals scored, their power-play is operating a league-best 29.6% However, their penalty kill is 18th in the league at a perfectly average 81.8%.

3. In the first seven games of their season, the Capitals have only faced a team’s starting goalie twice. They scored six on Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson, in a fluke-filled game that the Caps won in a shootout. The Caps dispatched Ilya Bryzgalov and the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2, scoring three in less than three minutes in the third period. For the other five games, teams have opted to play their back-up goalies, including Jacob Markstrom of the Florida Panthers, who got his second career start, and second career loss, against Washington.

4. Comparing Tomas Vokoun’s statistics to previous years gives very little worthwhile information, because he had the misfortune of playing for Florida for six years.  But just for the sake of being thorough, I’m going to anyway. The Czech veteran is now 6-0; the young Michal Neuvirth having sat between the pipes against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Vokoun’s Goals Against Average is 1.90, and he has a Save Percentage of .944. In 2010, after six games for the Panthers, he was 2-4, with a GAA of 2.13, and his SV% was .923. No wonder he took a $5 million pay cut to come to Washignton.

5. I have a t-shirt with Marcus Johansson’s name across the back, so that should tell you how big a fan I am of this kid. The 21 year old had a respectable 27 points in 69 games in his rookie season last year. In his six games for the Caps this year, he’s at five points. As center on the second line between Alex Semin and Mike Knuble, he’s sure to see a lot of action this year. He’s speedy, and he’s crafty, and he demonstrated both by notching two wrap-around goals this season. Look for this Swede to continue to get his name on the score sheet.

6. Conversely, I am not Alexander Semin’s biggest fan. Despite his obvious skills, historically Semin is lazy, and is notorious for taking hooking and slashing penalties. Maybe he finally read all of my angry letters, because Semin has improved his play in various ways this season. He’s looking for more opportunities to passes, instead of trying to force a bad-angle shot and it shows in his four assists. While he leads the team with eight penalty minutes thus far, I’m going to forgive him…for now.

7. Last, and most certainly least on my list, is a comparison to past failures. The Caps’ winning streak is now equal to their franchise record set in 1983 for longest losing streak to start a season. Ironically, later in that season they had a 14 game unbeaten streak, which is the second longest in franchise history. (Not a winning streak, mind you, because of a tie in the middle of the streak with the Buffalo Sabres.)

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