With a convincing 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers last night, the Washington Capitals are off to their first 5-0-0 start in franchise history. Certainly some of that can be attributed to playing four of those games at home, but there are early signs that Coach Boudreau’s renewed emphasis on fundamental hockey is already paying off:
- Since the lockout, Washington has never had a giveaway/takeaway ratio under 1.0, but so far the Caps lead the league in takeaways with 68 and boast a giveaway/takeaway ratio of less than 0.5, which is also a league best.
- Through five games, the Caps have been shorthanded only 16 times. That puts them at sixth best in the league, which is impressive for a squad that has not finished in the top 12 in that department since the lockout.
- The long experiment of using Ovechkin at the point during power plays is finally over, with immediate results. The Caps boast a 29 percent scoring rate with the man advantage so far this year — well above their subpar 17.5 percent performance of last year — and have scored on three of their last five power plays.
Something will have to give. Their next two opponents, Philadelphia and Detroit, are also off to near-perfect starts. But if the Caps can keep the streak alive through the weekend, expect the foliage donned by D.C. sports fans to make the seasonal change from burgundy and gold to red, red, and red a little early this year.