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Posted at 7:16 AM ET, 12/ 2/2010

Dissecting a winning streak

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

There's little question that ever since their brief three-game losing skid, the Capitals have righted the ship for more even-keeled games. They head into Dallas on Thursday with the chance to tie the season's longest winning streak with the bounces -- and more -- going their way.

So numerically, what does this winning streak look like?

--110 saves on 115 shots: Semyon Varlamov is back and looks as good as new after putting the a groin injury behind him after it cut his preseason short then kept him out of the NHL for most of the first two months of the season. He's won each of the four games during the streak and makes big saves precisely when the Capitals need them.

--Eight different goal scorers: Nicklas Backstrom (x4), Alexander Semin (x3), Brooks Laich (x2) along with single tallies by John Carlson, John Erskine, Tom Poti, Marcus Johansson and Boyd Gordon. Both primary and secondary scorers have chipped in goals at opportune times.

--15 of 16 penalties killed: Against St. Louis the Capitals thwarted all four of the Blues' power plays, including one at the end of the game without two of the unit's key players. But despite Jeff Schultz being in the box for high sticking and Tom Poti unavailable and out for the third period, Washington's players while shorthanded didn't flinch.

--4 power-play goals: The only game during the winning streak in which the Capitals didn't score a goal with the man advantage came in the 3-2 shootout win over the Hurricanes on Nov. 28. Washington only had one power play in the contest, though.

The game story of Washington's 4-1 win over the Blues, which marked the Capitals' first victory in St. Louis in 14 years.

Forbes released their multi-faceted analysis of the NHL for 2010, "The Business of Hockey" on Wednesday, which includes a ranking of the league's most valuable teams and the 10 general managers the "best for the buck".

George McPhee came in seventh in the latter category, while the Capitals ranked 16th in team value.

The Capitals will be a good test for the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars, and vice versa. (ESPN Dallas)

By Katie Carrera  | December 2, 2010; 7:16 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
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Next: Watch the preview of HBO's 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic


Did people see this quote by Marc Crawford? Sounds like he thinks pretty high of the Caps.

“A very good rush team. They are so dangerous on the attack and have a really good, active defense. I know they’ve added Scott Hannan, so maybe they are looking at becoming more of a playoff style team, a team that will able to compete in the playoffs. But when we do prepare for them, we prepare for their high energy skill. Their top line is just terrific. I really like their checkers, [David] Steckel, [Jason] Chimera and those kind of guys. They make them more complete. They are at that point in their careers where they are looking to take the steps to make the final push. They are an elite team in the league. They can beat you with skill, but they are forging an identity of being a more well-rounded, more complete team that will play any style.”

Posted by: sgm3 | December 2, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

from previous thread:

It kinda looked like the Caps had lead in their skates. The Caps played on the poor side, but the Blues were atrocious! I mean all the misfires, they had WAY more PPs than us, and just not converting.

Now...I think Varly did save us a bit BUT...

Why is that an excuse for St.Louis but when we lost to Halak it was all on us!!!! some of u are holding the Caps to a double standard! :)

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

from an interview with Ovie:

The Life: For many hockey fans, there's a split between Ovechkin fans and Crosby fans. But you're friendly with Sid in the film; do you think some of your die-hard fans might be a little surprised at that?

Ovechkin: No, we can talk when we don't play against each other. He's a nice guy and it's nice to have little talks with him. You know, it's life. We respect each other on the ice and off the ice, too

Ovechkin! I am dissapointed!...

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I really Laich when the team plays like they did last night. It's almost not even Fehr to the other team; it's like men against Boyes. And it wasn't for Halak of effort from St. Louis; the Caps were just better. Makes me feel like a King.

Posted by: Aldred15 | December 2, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

One nit-pick: The Caps did not have a three-game losing streak in November. They had a three-game winless streak. According to the way the NHL records such things, an overtime or shootout loss does not count as part of a losing streak because you get a standings point. The NHL's standings table has a blank space under "streak" for teams whose last game resulted in an OTL or SOL. Unfortunately, the only media outlet who understand this seems to be TSN.

Posted by: 1995hoo | December 2, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse


your proud of yourself aren't you! :)

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

It is such a relief to have Varley playing so well. Caps are in great shape in the net, as long as the injuries are at bay.

Looking forward to seeing Neuvy back in the net (is that a definite?) and checking out Hannan on our side tonight.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 2, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse grammar is bad in the morning
should read you're proud of yourself

sometimes even I don't believe I graduated college.

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait to see an 0-0-82 team with 82 points spin thie horrible 82 game losing streak that way Aldred.

A loss is a loss, and no one was keeping themselves warm at night with those thoughts after the loss to the Flyers.

Posted by: GFisher1 | December 2, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I certainly credit Philly with beating us. And I'm glad to see their streak at 3 losses, even though it's 2 shootouts and a shutout.

Posted by: Justafan | December 2, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

And, I think's description of Philly's streak at 3 losses is far more descriptive than's standings reflecting 1 loss (or NJ's streak at "-").

You can go by the book, but it's all a part of the NHL's effort to give as much life as they can to the questionable value of an OTL.

Posted by: Justafan | December 2, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Anyone curious as to what Cherry or Milburry would say about Ovie passing the puck to Backs for the empty netter dropping him to 3rd in goals on the team? He could of shot that himself if he wanted to.

Man that Ovie is one selfish SOB!

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The beauty of the Hannan pick up is that even if Poti is out, we don't have to play Sloan (Thus jeopardizing his future in the AHL).


I think Ovie has dialed it down a bit this season in preps for the playoffs.

Looking forward to NOT seeing Hannan. Because if he is on his game, he is INVISIBLE!


Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 2, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I am also hoping to see a boost in Mike Greens numbers due to the Hannan addition.

Less PK time will hopefully keep him fresher to do what he does best, bring O!

I dont really like seeing skill guys go down to block shots unless there is no other option.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 2, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

You can go by the book, but it's all a part of the NHL's effort to give as much life as they can to the questionable value of an OTL.

Posted by: Justafan


The value of an OTL is exact. It is exactly half the value of a win and infinitely greater than a loss.

So to say it is equal to that of a loss is, well, wrong.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 2, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if it is ovie actually saving himself for the playoffs, his hands are not nearly as soft as they were in years past, lots of passes are bouncing off his stick, and he is losing the puck a lot while stick handling. Maybe he switched the type of stick he is playing with? Maybe he just had a few too many vodka tonics this summer.

Posted by: chatton | December 2, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Ovie had two big hits last night. He nailed Jay McClemment on a forecheck. Even though Ovi went down too it was much less painful for him. Then in the 2nd Vladimir Sobotka thought he had Ovi in his crosshairs and he got hit by a truck with a license number of 8. So many want to say Ovie is not playing well, or average because he isn't scoring goals. Well, just watch how his game has evolved. The last assist to put the game to rest was evidence, but even more evidence is with about 5 minutes left Ovie threw himself into another gear but realized he had 3 Blues on his when he reached center. Last year he would have tried a 1 on 3 even with the lead, last night, he dumped the puck into the Blues zone and went off for a change. Ovechkin is becoming the complete player. He will have his explosion in goals and surge to toward the top of the goal scoring lead but I really don't think he cares about that. He wants a Stanley Cup.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 2, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone curious as to what Cherry or Milburry would say about Ovie passing the puck to Backs for the empty netter dropping him to 3rd in goals on the team? He could of shot that himself if he wanted to."

They'd say that He Who Must Not Be Named worked hard on his shooting in the offseason and would have scored that goal, thus proving why he's (purportedly) the best player in the league.

Posted by: 1995hoo | December 2, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I have been seeing so much fumbling of the puck in general this season (and skating issues) that I wonder if there is bad ice everywhere we play.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 2, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

What's up with Poti? Another groin problem?

Who is it that keeps sending these guys out with groin injuries before they're healed?

Posted by: Digitalman08 | December 2, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

fanohock: What's your take on last night's game? I had some back-n-forth with tmac. I was giving the caps maybe 8 or 9 out of 10 on that one and I gathered he was giving maybe 4. Could be someone just slipped me some Kool Aid, dunno. I would actually be interested anyone who wants to put a number rating the caps for last night. After what the Blues did vs Hawks Tuesday, I think we bottled em up pretty well. So I will put an 8. The Tampa game was a 10. The New Jersey game was a 1.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 2, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Digitalman, you ever had a groin injury? They feel better then get aggravated easily, but its all part of the process of building the strength back up in them. Play a bit, if it bothers you a bit you sit out, because its not getting better again until you rest it again for a few days then play on it to build up a little more strength, aggravate it rest, repeat

Posted by: chatton | December 2, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

"Semyon Varlamov is back..."

You could have stopped it right there Katie. Solid goaltending solves a lot of issues.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 2, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse


I would rate last nights game as a 6.5.

Varly was awesome and he is part of the team so he helps the rating. I do think the Caps were outplayed a good amount of the night and looked to have little to no jump out there.

However, when the Caps had the lead in the 3rd period they made many of the simple plays(as fanhock1 states, Ovie just got to the redline and dumped it in) and kept most of the Blues 3rd period chances to the outside.

I thought the forwards played well defensively. Overally, I think it was an average game at best for the defensemen.

The PK was outstanding also.

So there were some positives and some negatives, but overall a decent performance and great golatending. So a 6.5 in my book.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 2, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Was at this game. I'd put it at 6.5 too. GREAT PK, Ovie was a madman going around with the hits, and varly was simply stunning. Seeing some of those saves real time was fabulous. Some people were cheering early **thinking** it was a goal, and then No! Save. Great win.

Posted by: blur991 | December 2, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

If one generally assigns values of 0 to 4 for losses, 6 to 10 for wins, and a 5 for a game that was won undeservedly....

NAAAAH! "Deserves" ain't got nothin' to do with it!

So, I give last night's game a 7 or 8.

BTW, did any one else notice that, while DJ King's minutes were mostly solid ones, Stephan Della Rovere (sp) was pretty much a non-factor in the game?

Yeah, yeah, I know it's only one game, but could it be that GMGM is indeed smarter than some of us gave him credit for?

FTR, I still wish we had gotten Bieksa, though.

Go CAPS!!!!

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 2, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

So to say it is equal to that of a loss is, well, wrong.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 2, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3, I didn't say it was equal to a loss. I wasn't questioning whether an OTL gets you 1 point. I was just pointing out that there are plenty of folks uncomfortable with this consolation point system altogether. Though we're used to it now, winning by losing isn't so great.

Posted by: Justafan | December 2, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse


I said the same thing on here yesterday afternoon that Crawford said in referencing that they are trying to be good enough to play any style. And they arent focused on just trying to outscore teams like they were last year. If they can do that like they appear to be doing throughout the season, I like the chances for this team a lot more than I did last year.

Posted by: ThePat | December 2, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tom: I would give it about an 8. The reason I give it an 8 and not any lower is because everything needs to be kept in perspective. The Blues were on a losing streak, as you stated, suffered a loss by giving up 7 goals, and NEEDED a win against a team considered a top team in the NHL. When they fell behind they rolled 3 lines. BB on the other hand had the luxury to stay with 4 lines since we had the lead, and a B2B, plus had only 5 defensemen for the balance of the 3rd. So, rolling 4 lines means less time with skilled guys, more time with role guys, and the skilled guys shifting to a boring brand of hockey to secure a win on the road. Basically, if the Caps had to make more happen in the 2nd half of the game they could have and would have generated more shots and we would have seen more Ovie, Backs and Semin.

I really never felt like the Blues did all that much, even when they had zone time. Varly only made one spectacular save, the one on the PK. I'm not taking anything away from his performance but even the 2 on 1s that TMAC keeps wanted to bring up on the Caps 1st period PP, were not great chances. The pass was taken away and routine shots were taken. Varly made the saves when he need to which took a lot of the excitement out of the game. I'm fine with that because I need a low stress Caps night because I am under the weather.

I know I'm a Kool-aid drinker but TMAC, WOW, that guy just goes to town on here during every game. He waits for a mistake and logs it here. Even compliments come with a "but" in the same post. The Caps played a PERFECT road game last night. The crowd was a non-factor and they should have plenty of gas in the tank to compete in this big match-up tonight. The Caps better be ready to because everything I've read coming out the Stars locker room is that this game is circled on their calendar to see what type of team they really are. The Caps have got to come out ready to roll or they could be in a hole early.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 2, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Ovie must be very happy that Russia will be hosting the 2018 World Cup. I expect a big game out of him tonight.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 2, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

From GMGM's comments, I think Bieksa would have cost one of our goalies.
I agree with fanohock1 on Ovie dumping the puck in for a change in the 3rd and the ENG assist. He is much more of a complete player.
One of the biggest advantages Hannan brings is the ability to sit Poti (to rest or heal) and still play 6 NHL d-men.

Posted by: chriscaps | December 2, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

fanohock: Naturally I'm going to agree with you, because how you described it is how I saw it. I also agree on an "8" based on a slight modification of the Rhino-Rating System (RRS).

0-4 for a normal loss; 5 for undeserved win or an undeserved loss; 6-10 for a normal win.

6 would be barely squeaking out a win vs lousy team at home. BTW, I did notice crowd was incredibly quiet late in the game. So, I really liked the game. I think it showed a transition to the style we must play in Playoffs. I am seeing more maturity and less frenzy from our players. The minutes were controlled. With apologies to Jonathan6, it was a Blues-Breakers two-pt night.

sgm, blur991: Thx for input too.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 2, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

So GMGM was nominated for GM of the year(before), and recently is ranked 7th if all NHL GMs...yet TONS of people on this board call for his head every other day...Sometimes a big dose of perspective is needed to make you realize what you have.

Posted by: capscoach | December 2, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Whats with "how would you rate" the performance? Good teams find ways to win on off nights, and that's exactly what the Caps did. A road win against against an up-and-coming playoff team who was 8-1-1 at home; who needs style points? I think many are disappointed because, once again, it was guys like Erskine and the 3rd/4th lines who carried the team.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 2, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Great game last night, got to see it in person. That was indeed a great play, 1 on 3, saw it close up, as they closed in on him.

Great pass to Nick on the empty net goal.

Bottom line, OV, is helping fellow Russian get the big contract, and fan support. Does OV really need to lead the NHL or KHL in goals scored? I do not think so!!

Caps played a great road game last night, being at the game, very quite. I was hoping for a 3-2 game just to have some emotion. First two periods till the lucky goal it was dead silent.

Normally it is not a bad place for the blues, but they are missing some top guys, Oshie, Perron, Polak, etc.

Posted by: hunter321 | December 2, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Semin has 4 goals, not 3, in the last 4 games on the winning streak.

Posted by: Steakum | December 2, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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