The Washington Capitals got off to one of the worst starts in franchise history during this strike shortened 2013 NHL season. The team started off at a woeful 2-8-1. Since then the team has rattled off an 8-3-0 record and have now pulled within one game of the 500 mark. Much has been made of the Capitals terrible start including the constant negative remarks from the NHL networks Mike Milbury. Milbury always singles out star Alexander Ovechkin for any little thing he does wrong and even went as far as to say, “Act like a man, for God’s sake.”
Of course these days Milbury should be eating his words, even though those particular remarks were made in the only game in which the Capitals weren’t “competitive” during their 8-3-0 11 game stretch. Apparently in Milbury’s eyes stars can’t have an off game. Considering Milbury’s lifetime statistics include: 11 seasons, 754 games played, 49 goals, 189 assists (238 points) and a whopping 1,552 penalty minutes; I am not sure that he is one that can accurately judge talent and hold anyone to any standard. Honestly Milbury’s biggest claim to fame was when he went into the stands at Madison Square Garden, as a player mind you, to fight with the fans.
I digress, Alex Ovechkin has been on a solid streak during this 11 game stretch. He now has notched 6 goals and 7 assists bumping his totals to 9 goals and 11 assists for the season (22 games). Ovechkin isn’t the only one hearing talks that he is a “has been,” teammate Nick Backstrom has also heard the comments, of course not as loud. Backstrom has compiled a goal and 11 assists during this stretch moving him up to 2 goals and 18 assists through 22 games. These two have had 3 game winning goals out of the 8 wins over the last 11 games.
Learning a new system takes time, with zero preseason how else can a team learn aside from on the fly? During this 11 game streak the Capitals are out scoring their opponents 41 to 22 including 3 shutouts and an astonishing .934 save percentage from goalie Braden Holtby, who has been in net for all 11 contests. Only 2 goals a game on average for the young net minder and no time off due to the illness of Michael Neuvirth.
Back on January 24, 2013, before I was affiliated with the Sports-Kings; I wrote an article about this very Capitals team. It was only after 3 games, but I was very disappointed with what I was seeing. The article “C-A-P-S who?” let me rant about how things have changed with the team and how the results weren’t favorable. In the very last article however, I do say that it will take the team 1/3 of the season to find themselves. Since the finish of game 16 (1/3 of the season) the team is 5-1-0 and outscoring their opponents 23 to 9.
Many Washington Capitals fans panicked early on and jumped off the bandwagon. Many fans called for Adam Oates’ job as head coach and general manager George McPhee’s as well. Most of the fans have since jumped back on the bandwagon instead of seeing things through. The team is still without top 6 forward Brooks Laich (groin) and now without Mike Green (groin) but are still winning. They are only 6 points out of first place in the Southeast division (with one game in hand). Not to mention only 5 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot, which is held by the New York Rangers. The Capitals aren’t a team you want to see on your schedule these days. As for the rest of the Eastern Conference, watch out this team has figured out their system and they are taking names.