The impending demise of the Washington Capitals apparently has been greatly exaggerated.
As the Capitals prepare to play host to the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon, they are unbeaten in regulation and coming off a complete-effort 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, which has been a recurring theme so far in this young season.
“We’ve got all four lines going, all six defensemen going, the goalies have been playing great,” forward Daniel Sprong said. “I think we’re playing a team game.”
Perhaps the most impressive statistic for the Capitals is their five-on-five success. In four games, in which they’ve collected three wins and an overtime loss, Washington has outscored its opponents by an 11-2 margin, a testament to the complete team game Sprong was discussing.
“Offensively, we’ve put up some numbers. Defensively, we’re not allowing too many shots, and our goalies are stopping the ones they need to stop,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
To no surprise, captain Alex Ovechkin has been producing offensively — not only does he have four goals, he’s found the scoresheet in all four games. But goaltender Vitek Vanecek has also delivered elite production between the pipes.
Vanecek, the 2014 second-round draft pick, has a sparkling 1.30 goals-against average and .946 save percentage in three games as he makes a case to be the team’s No. 1 netminder in his second pro season.
“I felt pretty good,” Vanecek said after beating the Devils. “I was confident. The guys were playing really good. The second period was a little bit tougher; they got some chances but that’s normal. I had to make a big save to help the team through, but they helped me in the first and third periods.”
The Flames arrive after winning for the first time this season, having claimed a much-needed 3-0 road victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, the first outing in a five-game road trip.
“It was an important game, just because we started the season with two losses and we let the Anaheim game slip away and I had a lot to do with that,” goaltender Jacob Markstrom said after recording his ninth career shutout with a 33-save effort. “I was not happy with my performance last game. It was important for me to (bounce back). It was a big win for us, and for me personally.”
After a dismal 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers to kick off the campaign, the Flames blew a third-period lead en route to a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks in their home opener. Needing a strong game to gain a jolt of confidence, the Flames took a step in the right direction by handing the Red Wings their first regulation-time loss.
Coach Daryl Sutter said his team was “pretty good”, which is tremendous praise from the taskmaster.
“I think the last couple games we’ve been getting shots and good looks, but not second and third shots,” forward Andrew Mangiapane said.
“We went to the net. I don’t think we were too happy about the first two games, so (in Thursday’s) game we wanted to come out and win a game and get things rolling for us.”
One player who has been rolling is forward Elias Lindholm, who has scored a goal in all three games to start the season.
–Field Level Media