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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 12/14/2010

What are the Caps doing right?

By Nicole Weissman

'Tis the season, so I'm throwing the Caps a bone today. Lately the coverage for the Caps has been a real downer. In case you haven't been reading (and anyone trying to get into the Holiday spirit should probably take a pass), we've lost six games in a row. Fans would like to fire or trade Bruce Boudreau, George McPhee, Tom Poti, Alex Semin, Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr. Fans love Matt Bradley.

But all's not lost in Whoville... I mean Bedford Falls... I mean Washington. There are a few things this team is doing well, even in comparison with last season, which set the bar incredibly (perhaps too) high for this year's performance.

John Carlson

He's not just fun to watch, and he doesn't just have the golden touch under pressure, he also has the numbers to back up what is amounting to an outstanding rookie season. Carlson is tied for 36th overall in points by a defenseman and 11th in points by a rookie. He's eighth among rookies in shots on goal with 56, eighth among rookies in hits with 30, first among rookies and tied for eighth overall in blocked shots with 69, and second among rookies in ice time, averaging 22:07 per game. Carlson has led the team in ice time six times so far this year. He has 22,145 All-Star votes, all write-ins.

Taking a Break

It's no secret that the Caps have been hit hard by a stomach bug this last week or so. I applaud Boudreau's decision to give the team the day off yesterday despite Sunday's 7-0 loss to the Rangers. He's under a lot of pressure from fans looking to see what changes he's going to make in light of the team's recent skid, and I'm sure a day off wasn't the kind of change fans were looking for. They wanted the Herb Brooks approach (Again!). Still, a little rest will help sick players to fully recover, and may also give everyone a chance to stew, think, and be ready to work hard.

Nailing the PK

Cup-winning teams have strong penalty kill units, and that's something the Caps didn't have last year. At 78.8 percent, the Caps ranked 25th in the league and mustered just four shorthanded goals over the course of the season. This year's more aggressive PK isn't perfect, but at 83.6 percent is comfortable middle-of-the-pack. Most notably, the Caps have already amassed four shorthanded goals, putting them on pace to more than double their number from last year. For reference, last year's Chicago Blackhawks scored 13 shorthanded goals and went on to win the Cup.

Taking shots

Of course scoring goals isn't all about playing the odds, but it's true what they say: you can't score if you don't shoot. Last year's Caps were third in the league in shots for, averaging 32.84 per game and surpassed only by Detroit's 33.4 and Chicago's 34.1. This year the Caps are averaging the exact same, 32.84 shots per game, and that's one stat I don't want to see them let slip, because the list of top 10 teams for shots per game reads like a who's-who of Stanley Cup contenders.

Perhaps I haven't told you anything you didn't already know, but I hope I've taken a refreshingly positive approach to the Caps' circumstances. Anyone else noticing some high points? Favorite moments of the season so far?

By Nicole Weissman  | December 14, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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Comments

For all the critics who've complained about Schultz and Green, the guys on our top defensive pairing. They've both been out and we've been much worse without them.

Until now, Laich had been one of the most beloved of the Capitals.


Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 15, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

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