After a so-so start to the 2010-11 season, the Washington Capitals are beginning to show why they ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy last year.
The Capitals began the year 4-3-0, but have since won six of seven games and sit atop the Eastern Conference. They have only lost once at home - a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins - and are tied with Los Angeles for the second-best goals for/against differential (plus-13) in the league.
As expected, superstar left winger Alex Ovechkin is leading the way on offense for the Caps, with a team-best 18 points. But a particularly bright light has been the all-round play of left winger Brooks Laich, who is a team-best plus-10 so far.
As well, Washington has got to be pleased with the performance of rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth, who has a save percentage of .914 to go along with his 8-3-0 record.
The Caps play four times in six days this week, including home games against the Lightning and Thrashers and road games against the Rangers and Sabres.
Jaroslav Halak, Ty Conklin combining to average a stupendous 1.42 goals-against per game
Jonathan Bernier’s 2.26 goals-against average and .922 save percentage is nothing to sneeze at, but Jonathan Quick’s 1.64 G.A.A. and .942 save percentage (as well as his 8-1-0 record) is even better
Lock up the lambs – the beast has awoken
Home games this week vs. Coyotes, Oilers and Avs give Wings good chance at building on 4-1-1 record at Joe Louis Arena
Canucks are winners of six straight; that Manny Malhotra signing isn’t looking so overpriced, is it?
Flyers defense corps is so good Sean O’Donnell is leading entire team in plus-minus (plus-8)
Bruins’ penalty kill best in the league (92.9 percent)
Jackets are super-tight defensively, thanks in no small part to MVP-type play from Mathieu Garon (1.28 GAA, .951 save percentage)
Wild are winning, but leaning too hard on Niklas Backstrom’s brilliance and powerful power play (27.1 percent)
P.K. Subban third among Habs skaters in average time on ice, fourth in shots on net
Mike Ribeiro has averaged more than 22 goals per year over the past three seasons; he has none this year
Sophomore defenseman Victor Hedman now leads team in time on ice (23:02)
Matt Duchene briefly benched as Avs try to find consistency
Sean Avery has one goal on 36 shots; Brandon Dubinsky has 10 on 36
Now this looks more like the borderline playoff team we thought Sens would be
Joe Pavelski is fifth on the Sharks in scoring (three goals and eight points) – and last in plus/minus (minus-seven)
Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay has some teaching to do on defense as team allows league-high 37.8 shots-against per game.
Canes getting whipped on faceoffs, winning an NHL-worst 38.1 percent of draws
The Good Patrick Sharp has a team-best 17 points; The Bad Patrick Sharp is a team-worst minus-11
Pens face tough tests this week in stingy Bruins, high-scoring Bolts and Thrashers
Three straight wins have scared vultures away from Randy Carlyle, but for how long?
Vultures now swarming around Ron Wilson, but why is the coach expected to score goals for this team?
Southerners’ sweet start swapped for sloppy swoon
Panthers are only team in bottom nine of league standings to have a positive goals for/against differential
When Brendan Morrison is your leading point-getter, what else is there to say?
No Coyote has more than four goals or six assists
Oilers penalty kill is in holiday giving mood already - at 70.9 percent efficiency, their PK is ranked 30th in the league
Rick DiPietro averaging a boo-pendous 4.21 goals-against per game
Seven points, a minus-8, and an 8.00 shooting percentage? For shame, Thomas Vanek, for shame
Devils still haven’t won at home in six tries; team record for consecutive home losses is nine
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
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