Hello again, Scarlet Caps!
Wow…What a start to the New Year! The Caps began 2017 firing on all cylinders, and have catapulted themselves to the top of league, all thanks to the month of January. It was a historic month here in Washington, so let's take a quick recap:
Braden Holtby recorded 3 shutouts. Philip Grubauer also had one. Alex Ovechkin reached his 1,000-point plateau vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins (awesome!). The Caps led the NHL with 12 wins. The team earned their highest point percentage in franchise history. The offense was on fire, having nine games with five or more goals. The Caps scored a total of 65 goals, averaging just about 4.5 goals per game. Team defense was ranked #1. The power-play started clicking and coming together. And, on top of all of that, Evgeny Kuztnetsov was named NHL's first star of the month, scoring seven goals and 13 assists in 15 games.
The Caps have found their identity, and were excellent in all facets of their game, from defensive zone coverage, to special teams, and to generating offense. And to me, it all stemmed from how every player, from the goalie on out, chipped in to contribute to the team's success throughout the entire month-talk about balance!
But unfortunately, we can't bask in January's glory for too long, because there are still ten weeks of Caps hockey left. So let's put January in the rear view mirror, put the pedal to the medal, and take a look at the month ahead. Here's what to expect:
- The Caps began their four game home stand in fine fashion Super Bowl Sunday, with a dominating win vs. the Kings, beating them 5-0. Home ice has been a huge advantage for the Caps this season, and they even went undefeated in the month of January at Verizon Center. So let's hope the fans can continue to cheer on the boys in red to victory! They have won 9 in a row on F street.
- After this four game home stand, the Caps will have their mandatory "bye week," where they will be off from the 12th through the 16th. New to the NHL this season, between January and the start of March, every team has five days off to give the players time to rejuvenate and refresh from the rigors of the season. Sometimes, a little rest goes a long way! (Ps. I will be skiing in Colorado!)
- When they return back from their bye week, the Caps will close out the month with three out of their six games versus Metro Division foes. Two of those are against the Rangers, one game vs. the Flyers. Because the Metro is so tight this season, these are games that are marked on my calendar as must watch, as they are the proverbial four pointers and can help move the Caps ahead in points in the Metro.
- And then of course… the trade deadline, which asks a lot of questions. Do the Caps stay pat? Do they add a depth forward or a defenseman? What will General Manager Brian MacLellan do? This is going to be a big decision and one that we need to wait on. This team has tremendous chemistry, so staying pat and not upsetting the apple card may be a viable course of action. But then again, this is the year, so "going for it" maybe be order! But I guess we will have to wait this one out!
Enjoy some more Caps hockey… and talk to you next month!