How Did the Washington Capitals Perform in October? The Good, Bad, and Ugly
The opening month of the 2014-15 NHL season has flown by. The Washington Capitals had their fair share of great games in October. But, they also had their fair share of mediocre performances too.
So how did the Capitals finish October? They finished with a 4-3-2 record and 10 points to begin the season. Through October 30, the Capitals are ranked sixth in the Metropolitan Division. They are ranked tenth overall in the Eastern Conference.
There were games in October where the Capitals did not play bad. The home opener on October 9 against Montreal was a classic example of this. The Capitals outshot the Canadiens 30-24 in the game and did a good job neutralizing the speedy Canadiens attack. However, the Capitals would squander the extra point away in the skills competition.
Another game in the month of October that the Capitals squandered away was the game in Edmonton on October 22. The Capitals outplayed the Oilers in the contest overall, but they shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and mistakes. I am sure the Capitals regret not getting the two points in Edmonton.
While they would like to have some of the games back, the Capitals had some bright spots in October. The Capitals played outstanding complete games on October 11 in Boston (4-0) and on October 16 against New Jersey (6-2).
Is this kid good or what? As a matter of fact, he was one of the Capitals top producers in the month of October. He finished with 2 goals and 8 points with only 9 career NHL games under his belt. He has found a home on the Capitals second line. He has explosive speed and creativity with the puck, and he has a big pro-level shot to back it up with.
Shhh. Do not look now. But Mike Green is leading the Capitals in production too. He has 3 goals and 8 points in 8 games this season. He is leading all Capitals skaters with a +6 rating. Less icetime for Mike Green has turned into more production for Mike Green. Green is playing some of his best hockey in years and he is flying out on the ice.
This is one of the best statistics the Capitals have so far this season. The Capitals are the third best team in the NHL in shots against per game. Barry Trotz has really made the Capitals defensively responsible in all three zones of the rink. Remember when the Capitals looked like a fire drill in their defensive zone last season? Remember when the Capitals averaged over 35 shots against per game? Those days look to be long gone.
The Washington Capitals are 17th best team in the NHL inside the faceoff dot. Through October 30, they are at 49.3% effective in the dot. This is pretty average at best. I would like to see them get above 50% as the season continues to move forward.
It seems the Capitals left off where they ended last season with the penalty kill. They are ranked 19th in the NHL in penalty killing. They have been 79.4% effective killing penalties. This is still a work in progress for the Capitals. Hopefully they will continue to improve here as the season marches forward.
I am still waiting for the unstoppable Braden Holtby. Statistically, Braden had a good month of October. He posted a 2.25 goals against average and .907 save percentage.
Unfortunately, in some of the games, Braden has let a few squeaky goals in. These squeaky goals have killed the Capitals momentum in the contest. Holtby had a very slow start in the San Jose game on October 14 and let in some soft goals against Detroit on October 29. I can only hope he continues to work out the kinks in his game and continues to get rid of the bad habits of previous seasons.
Through 9 games to begin the season, Jason Chimera only has 1 goal. The 35-year old Edmonton native has had a slow start to his season. He is expected to produce 15-20 goals for the Capitals this season. He is a mainstay on the Capitals third line and he typically is lined up with Joel Ward and Eric Fehr.
The Road Ahead
The Washington Capitals will have a busy November slate. They have 14 games within a span of 29 days. They will get a dose of the Metropolitan Division and they will also get to see some of the best of the Western Conference. The Capitals will have seven home games and seven road games in November.
November is a key point in the season for the Capitals. They need to start racking up the points and they need to get some momentum going heading into the winter months.
The Capitals were up and down in the month of October. They did not play bad overall, but could have played better. The Capitals need to start turning these tight games into wins instead of losses. Every point is critical in the NHL and the competition is very close.
I feel the Capitals still have not hit their peak and still have not found their complete game yet. I feel the Capitals will have a good month of November. If they can close out games and cut down on their own errors, they should be in good shape.
Thanks for tuning in!
I am from Virginia. I am covering the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. I love to write and I am a huge sports fanatic – especially hockey. Follow me on Twitter: @Canucksfin56