With Sunday's 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames in the books, so is the October portion of the Capitals' 2016-17 schedule and roughly the first 10 percent of the season. Believe it or not, there are no NHL games scheduled for Monday, so the book is now closed on the entire circuit for the season's first month.
Washington sits with a 5-2-1 record at this early juncture. The Capitals own a .688 points pct., which is fifth best in the league and third in the Eastern Conference behind Montreal (.944) and Pittsburgh (.722).
As far as the ingredients that go into that points pct., the Caps are starting to trend upward in most areas.
Washington finishes October with an average of 2.75 goals per game, putting it right in the middle of the NHL pack at 15th in the league. The Capitals have been prolific at putting pucks on net; their rate of 33.1 shots on goal per game is second in the league only to Toronto's 34.7. With six tip-in (deflection) goals in eight games, the Caps are tied for the league lead.
With goals in consecutive games for the first time in 2016-17, the Caps' power play has nudged its way up to 17.4% on the season, ranking 18th in the circuit at the end of October.
The Capitals' penalty-killing outfit has climbed up to 78.3% on the season, ranking 21st in the league in that department. With a 50.8% success rate in the face-off circle, the Caps are 10th in the league.
Through eight games, the Caps are third from the bottom in minor penalties taken per 60 minutes, but they're also third from the bottom in minor penalties drawn per 60 minutes. Given their 16-10 goal differential at five-on-five, the Caps are comfortable playing games without a lot of special teams activity.
Where Washington really shines is in its own end of the ice. The Caps are allowing an average of exactly 25 shots per game, which is tops in the league. Washington has allowed two goals per game, tied for second in the league behind only Montreal (1.44). Washington has yet to allow more than 30 shots on net in any game this season, and the team that managed to reach 30 against the Caps (Pittsburgh, on opening night) needed overtime in order to do it.
There's a long way to go, but so far so good.