Shooting for the President’s Trophy

While the Washington Capitals have managed to accumulate a 4-1-1 record following the Winter Olympic break, there has been a noticeable trend while facing some of the leagues top goaltenders during this six game stretch. Although the Caps still lead the NHL in every offensive category: goals scored, goals/game, plus/minus, power play, etc – they still seem to have a harder time lighting the lamp against an opponents’ first-string goalie. Sure, it’s easy to say that a better goaltender will stop more rubber – that’s a given. But even more interesting, DC has been able to put more shots on a squad’s first-stringer, edging back-ups 121-to-101. Even if you remove the peppering Turco endured (and the highest total against a back up), Washington has still forced the starting backstop to work harder with 69 SOG vs 62. The Capitals 40.3 SOG/G against the starting three goalies soars over their season average of 33.0 SOG/G. Here’s a deeper look at the numbers:

Date Team Goaltender SOG GA S Sv % GAA
March 3 at BUF Miller 39 2 37 .949
March 4 vs. TBL *Smith 34 5 29 .853
March 6 vs. NYR *Auld 28 2 26 .929
March 8 vs. DAL Turco 52 3 49 .942
March 10 vs. CAR *Legace 39 4 35 .897
March 12 vs. TBL Niittymaki 30 2 28 .933
Total 222 18 204 .919 3.00
Back Up Goalie 101 11 90 .819 3.67
Starting Goalie 121 7 114 .942 2.33

* denotes second-string goaltender

So are opposing defenses allowing more chances for the Caps, entrusting the outcome of the game to the first-string goalie? Or are the Capitals knowing they have to step up their game against the likes of Miller, Turco, and Niittymaki? Either way, with Marc-Andre Fleury, Tuukka Rask, Tomas Vokoun, and Miikka Kiprusoff still on the slate this season – it’ll be interesting to watch how the Capitals react while chasing the President’s Trophy.