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Caps scored early en route to NHL's best record

by John Kreiser
The Capitals were good at lots of things last season, including playing with the lead, which helped them finish with the League's best record.

Advantage Margin: -3
You might think a team as talented as the Caps would pile up power play after power play -- but you'd be wrong. Their 313 advantages were tied for 10th, and they actually gave opponents 316 chances.

Special Teams Goal Margin: +8
Washington's power play ran away from the pack, topping the League in goals (79) and percentage (25.2). But the Caps struggled to kill penalties, finishing 25th at 78.8 percent, including 27th (74.8 percent) on the road.

Goals by defensemen: 37
Mike Green led the Caps and all NHL defensemen with 19 goals, but he didn't get much help -- no one else on the team had more than 4. That could change this season if John Carlson and Karl Alzner can earn full-time roles.

Overtime Record
Total: 11-7-6
OT: 6-7 SO: 5-6
Alex Ovechkin may be unstoppable during regulation and overtime, but he's nothing special during shootouts. Ovi was just 2-for-9 last season and is only 13-for-47 (27.7 percent) during his career.

Times Scored First: 52 Record: 38-7-7
It's fun to play from in front, as the Caps proved last season. They led the NHL by scoring first in 31 of 41 home games (winning 23 of those) and got the opening goal in more than half of their games away from the Verizon Center.

Best 2009-10 Number: 34-7
Washington's record in games decided by more than one goal. The Caps were 12-1 in two-goal games (helped 11 empty-netters), and were 22-6 when the margin was three or more goals.

Worst 2009-10 Number: 42
Power-play goals allowed by the Capitals in road games. Only the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished 29th and 30th in penalty-killing, allowed more.
The Caps have a chance for a fast start with four of their first six at the Verizon Center. They have road trips of five games in February and six games in March, but their biggest away game is against the Penguins at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Jan. 1.
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