Big Win, Tough Loss
The Caps picked up a huge win in Buffalo on Wednesday and have now won four of their last five. While most varieties of new and old media have focused on Alex Ovechkin’s goal drought and subsequent goal spree, or the Caps’ unorthodox three-goalies-on-the-roster situation, here’s something that has gone past virtually everyone’s radar. Washington has allowed just 37 goals in its last 16 games. That’s 2.31 per game after the Caps had allowed 3.12 per game over the season’s first 52 contests. The Caps have allowed just nine goals in their last six games, a stretch during which they’ve gone 4-1-1. It’s the best sustained stretch of defense for Washington since before the lockout, and it couldn’t be happening at a better time.
Unfortunately, one of the Caps’ defensive stalwarts was lost in the Buffalo game. Center David Steckel suffered a broken finger and will miss 2-3 weeks of action. Steckel entered Wednesday’s game with a face-off win pct. of 56.3, seventh best in the league among those centers with 600 or more draws taken on the season. The Caps will miss Steckel’s prowess in the circle, and also his knack for penalty killing. Steckel averages 3:46 per contest in shorthanded ice time, fourth among all NHL forwards.
As expected, Atlanta offered little resistance to the Hurricanes and Carolina walked to a 6-3 win over the Thrashers on Wednesday. (That’s eight losses in a row for Atlanta.) The Caps now trail the Canes by three points in the Southeast Division standings and are two points behind eighth-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference standings.