Progress in Progress

It’s everywhere you look.

The Caps are 3-0 for the first time since 2002-03. That season marked the Capitals’ most recent playoff appearance.

On Friday, they get a chance to match the franchise record for consecutive wins at the start of a season when they visit the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Caps opened the 1991-92 and the 1997-98 seasons with four straight wins. The 1997-98 season marks the Caps’ most recent playoff series win and their lone trip ever to the Stanley Cup finals.

The Caps did not play as well today as they did in their first two games. But they found a way to win.

Washington was 7-32-6 when its opponent scored the game’s first goal in 2006-07. The Caps were 13-28-4 in such situations in 2005-06. They’re 1-0 in 2007-08.

The Capitals were 9-10-14 in one-goal games last season.

In 2005-06, the Caps collected their second road win in their 10th road game, on Nov. 19. In 2006-07, the Caps notched their second road win in their seventh road game, on Oct. 30. This season, the Caps recorded their second road win in their second road game. On Oct. 8.

The last time the Caps started the season with wins in their first two road games was 2002-03.

I researched all the way back to 1994-95 and could not find a game where Washington managed to win with as few as a dozen shots on goal. But … getting back to the Island and to that 2002-03 season again, the Caps won their road opener at Nassau (to run their season’s record to 2-0) on Oct. 12, 2002 by a 2-1 count despite being outshot 36-14. The Caps also took a 2-1 decision from Tampa Bay on Feb. 3, 2004 despite being outshot 39-14. The Caps won 2-1 on Monday in Long Island despite being outshot 31-12.

Right on cue, this just in: Today’s game marked the fewest shots on goal ever in a Washington win, eclipsing the 13 shots the Caps fired in a 5-2 win at St. Louis on Jan. 29, 1977.

Washington has its first three-game winning streak since it won three in a row from Jan. 4-9, 2007. The Caps had one four-game winning streak in each of the last two seasons. They had one four-game winning streak in 2001-02 and in 2002-03. The last time Washington won more than four in a row was a five-game run Mar. 3-11, 2002.

It’s only three games of course, and there is a long way to go. But after such a long summer, those three games (in a very condensed span of 66.5 hours) could not have gone much better.

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15 Comments on “Progress in Progress”

  1. TJ Says:

    Considering the 3 games in 65 hours, Ill take the win anyway we can.

    They were not dominated, and they still showed some positives.

    Another great effort by Olie, mans its comforting when you have 23 and 26 out there on D.

  2. Dan, Jr. Says:

    I totally agree with you TJ. Some may feel they were lucky today, squeaking by with the win. But, every team making it to the playoffs has had a little luck along the way. With Kolzig’s hard work in the net today, I wouldn’t call it luck. Thanks Olie!

  3. fatdaddy Says:

    Yeah, a great effort from Olie. And to be fair, Fleischmann dinged a post early on, and Clark’s goal looked to me NOT to have been played above his shoulder…so they pretty easily should’ve had at least one more goal. Of course, Kozlov’s goal was a complete gift from DiPietro.

    Anyway, I thought the Caps looked real flat today. But I’ll take the W, the GWG from Laich, the offensive contributions spread up and down the roster…it’s all pretty good.

    I smell something special brewing in the District!

  4. Empty Maybe Says:

    The mark of a good team, like a good pitcher, is managing to get the W without your best stuff, and the Caps made that happen today. I’ve yet to see a bad road win. Nice effort, and big shout-out to the Pettinger-Gordon-Clark line.

  5. ZeroCool Says:

    Vogs- Just as you said, there isn’t any possible better outcome from the first three games of the year. The offense looks good, but I would have hoped to see Semin-Nylander-Backstrom more than once this season (I had to complain about SOMEthing) and the PP will no doubt click sooner rather than later with the number of opportunities they are getting.

    The question left unanswered is what will happen to Eminger? Schultz seems destined for Hershey at some point with the way Erskine is playing so I would assume he would be back on the active roster, what, sometime this week? I can’t imagine him staying on IR and Clymer getting recalled at this point… I don’t want to jinx the team but, even with Erskine’s solid work, I would kinda like to see Eminger out there with Pothier (who, btw, seems to be still looking for his game early on here). Am I asking the unreasonable or should we take Erskine’s play as a positive note and let Emmy get back on the ice already?

  6. TJ Says:

    ZeroCool- I dont think there is anyway you can take Erskin out of the lineup. He has been playing great.

  7. umwhockey Says:

    Erskin playing great? He looked like a fish out of water whenever someone pressured him in the defensive zone today. Turnover after turnover

  8. TJ Says:

    Orly? I have watched the game twice now. And I only saw one or two occasions where he had trouble.

    When I say Erskin is playing great, I mean that hes playing to his potential. Erskin is never going to be a +30 D man, hes a workhorse who has a physical edge.

  9. Jed Says:

    Looked to me like the caps needed any physical edge they could get last night… I know the stats say that they were pretty close in hits with the Islanders, but I felt like they were out-hit by a lot in reality… or that just me?

  10. dumpnchase Says:

    Tj,
    Good point, not dominated by any means, only in the one statistical category (shots on goal).

    Fat daddy,
    I didn’t think they looked flat at all. They weren’t hemmed in their own end for minutes at a time or anything like what we’ve seen the last three seasons. GIve the Isles some credit, too.

    Empty,
    Agreed. Good teams find a way. And the checking line was and is top notch.

    Zero,
    You’re not going to see too many coaches change the lineup when a team is winning. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get anyone in or out of the lineup right now, with the exception of Semin. Having the likes of Sutherby, Eminger and Schultz on stand-by is what depth is all about.

    FWIW, I think Erskine has been fine.

    Jed,
    I thoiught it was a pretty even game, physically.

  11. Mike L Says:

    A good team can win when they play well. A great team can win when they’re not playing well. Olie stole a couple of points yesterday for the Caps, and looked great doing it. I suspect with the two games up coming on Friday and Saturday Olie and Johnny will split duty (my guess is Olie on Friday in NYC and the Johnny vs. Buffalo).

    The record in one-goal games is a bit of a deceptive statistic in hockey just as it is in baseball. In a close game, it could be a lucky bounce that determines the outcome, whereas in a game that isn’t close, luck is reduced and skill is what determines the outcome.

    Bill James, the baseball stats guru, did a study and found that teams that did well in 1-run games didn’t necessarily do well over-all, but teams that had good records in games decided by 4 or more runs tended to be the best teams in the league. It makes sense, since the better teams will blow people out occasionally, and not be on the receiving end of a blow out that often.

    I would think in hockey the equivalent would be games decided by 3 or more goals, and so far the caps are 0-0-0 in them. Now, the could have had many more goals against Atlanta (they hit the iron 3 times) and Carolina (twice), these were still fairly close where it counts. I’d like to see the Caps record after October and part of November, after about 20 games and see how they do in blow-outs. If they’re 4-1 or better in games decided by 3 or more goals, then we might just possibly have a Cup contender here in DC.

  12. Jbryan Says:

    Mike L……..
    Id love to see the 69 Mets and Orioles stats on one run games vs 4 run wins. Supposition tells me the Mets had a better one run win/loss record perct than the O’s (who had more totall wins to draw from, thus percentage over totals). If the supposition is true, that would have considerable worth in championship games fwiw. I remember the days when one goal games were the norm and 2 and 3 goal games were considered dominating your opponent….any more than that and your team was considered a minor league team masquarading in the NHL.

    What 3 great wins for our caps. Like you Daddy, I feel something special brewing. A physical presence is important, even if you give up 30 shots on goal…it disrupts the psychology of your opponents. 2 goals allowed in 3 games……..very encouraging.

  13. Mike L Says:

    JBryan,

    Don’t get me wrong, I love how the Caps have done. It’s been great. 🙂

    Also, with regards to the study Bill James did, he looked at about 25 years worth of standings and found a trend. There will always be exceptions, of course, but it’s a general trend. I suspect both the O’s and Mets in 1969 both did well in blow-outs. The reason the Mets beat the O’s was that in that short series, they had better pitching during the series. Both staffs were anchored by a Hall of Famer (Seaver and Palmer) but as you went deeper into the rotation, the Mets were a little bit better (which is saying something as the O’s were also very good). That and the Mets had a better bullpen (Noland Ryan and Tug McGraw were in the Mets bullpen in 1969!)

    I’m still thinking the Caps are going to be a playoff team, and a winning team. I think they’ll win the Southeast Division. If they start to really bury teams along the way, they cam move up from being a playoff team to being a serious Cup contender.

  14. Notfadeaway Says:

    I have to stick up for Erskine here. He made one play on Monday that was about as impressive as it gets, using his skate while low to the ice to prevent a shot from the Isles.

    I have to admit that I’ve been pulling for him since the first time I saw him at VC. He is big and menacing, which is something the Caps have missed on D for a while now. But this year, I’m actually impressed. I don’t necessarily expect him to play all 82 games, but I sure hope he’s a regular in the lineup, and I think his potential may yet be untapped.

  15. dumpnchase Says:

    Notfadeaway,
    Good observation. The play you mentioned occurred in the third period, and it came on a transition play when the Isles caught the Caps and had a 2-on-1 rush going. Erskine made a nice play to bust that up — score was still 1-1 at this point — and turn it around in the other direction.

    The Caps’ third D pairing right now is Erskine and Pothier, their most physical defenseman and the guys who started out as the No. 1 last season and who led the team in minutes last season. That’s not bad, and it’s another of many indicators of progress.


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