Here's a question that ought to get the bloggers and talking heads around the NHL all fired up, not to mention the affable Bruce Boudreau
Will the Washington Capitals
lose another game this season?
Just floating it out there, that's all. Sorry, Coach -- had to do it.
Now, let's not get silly here -- we can pretty much assume the Capitals will lose again before the 2009-10 regular season ends April 11. Or, at least, we think they will, though Alex Ovechkin
and Co. have given us no indication of that over their last 11 games.
Washington will try to extend its franchise-record winning streak to 12 games against the Rangers in New York Thursday (7 p.m. ET). With a win at Madison Square Garden, the Capitals would own the longest winning streak for any team since the League returned from the work stoppage. New Jersey won 11 straight in 2005-06 and San Jose did it in 2007-08.
But the Caps' streak is not the only one we should be talking about today.
The Ottawa Senators
put their franchise record 10-game winning streak on the line Thursday when they host the Vancouver Canucks
. The Senators beat Buffalo Wednesday night, 4-2.
In Los Angeles, the Kings go for eight-straing wins when they host the Anaheim Ducks
Thursday night. A win over the Ducks would tie the longest winning streak in franchise history. And for the first time ever, the Kings went 5-0 on a road trip.
Streaks are hot in the NHL today, but how did the Capitals, Senators and Kings get to this point?
Let's dive in and find out:
Their winning streak started with a come-from-behind shootout victory in Florida on Jan. 13. The Capitals trailed 2-0 after the first period and 4-1 at the halfway point of the game, but then their offense woke up.
And it hasn't gone to back to bed since.
Washington is a plus-29 in goal differential over its last 11 games. The Caps have netted 51 goals during the streak, an average of 4.64 per game, pushing their season average to an NHL-best 3.82 per game. San Jose is second at 3.29.
Ovechkin was the NHL's Player of the Month for January, with 26 points in 15 games, but Alexander Semin
is the hottest Cap right now, with points in 10 straight games (6 goals, 11 assists). It's the longest streak by any Capital this season.
It hasn't been all offense, though. The Caps are allowing just 2.0 goals per game during their winning streak and have yielded three or more only three times.
, who has won eight of the games, has stolen two of them. He made 44 saves in a 3-2 victory against Detroit and 41 in a 4-1 win against Boston. Rookie Michal Neuvirth
, now playing in the AHL, has the other four victories.
The Senators have put together their franchise-best 10-game winning streak after losing five straight. The regulation win against Buffalo put the Senators just one point behind the Sabres for first place in the Northeast Division.
Goaltending has been the biggest reason why the Senators have done so well. Brian Elliott
has won the last eight games, and over that span has posted a 1.14 goals-against average and .961 save percentage. He was the NHL's First Star of the Week ending Jan. 24, and Monday he was named the Second Star of the Week ending Jan. 31.
Before Elliott, rookie Mike Brodeur
, in just his second and third career starts, won back-to-back games in New York at Madison Square Garden and in Montreal at Bell Centre. Talk about a pair of games he'll never forget.
Ottawa also has gotten a host of injured players back during the streak, including Jason Spezza
(missed 20 games), Daniel Alfredsson
(11), Milan Michalek
(7) and Filip Kuba
Spezza has a goal in all four games since his return. Alfredsson has 11 points since returning eight games ago. Alex Kovalev
has also come to life with 10 points during the streak.
A five-game winning streak really isn't much to get all crazy about, but when you go five for five on a road trip, well, you've got a story. And when that 5-0 road trip comes after you pick up a win in your final home game before heading out the door, it's even better.
The Kings did all of that, and then came home Tuesday and beat the Rangers, 2-1, behind a shorthanded goal from Anze Kopitar
and Ryan Smyth
's 17th of the season. Jonathan Quick
, who has been in net for the entire streak, made 20 saves.
L.A. started its streak with a 4-3 victory against Buffalo at Staples Center on Jan. 21. The Kings won road games at Detroit, Columbus, Toronto, Boston and New Jersey before coming home to beat the Rangers.
Kopitar's resurgence has been a big key for the Kings. He managed only 11 points (2 goals, 7 assists) over 22 games from Nov. 13-Dec. 31, but he had 17 points in January and started February well. He has at least a point in every game of the win streak (5 goals, 6 assists).
Quick is another great story.
Coach Terry Murray
refuses to give him a rest because he hasn't shown any need for one. Quick has allowed 14 goals during the win streak, but only six in the last four games. He has started 50 of the Kings' 55 games this season.