NHL Metropolitan Division Power Rankings: Capitals Are Elite

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Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Metropolitan Division Power Rankings: #1 – Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals entered this season as a trendy Stanley Cup pick by many experts and pundits. They set the bar extremely high for themselves after taking the Rangers to seven games last season and by significantly improving their team during the offseason. It’s not easy to live up to high expectations. The Capitals have done exactly that so far this season with a 6-1-0 record.

The Capitals have an extremely well-balanced team. They have scored 29 goals through seven games while allowing just 18. Their +11 goal differential is second in the league. Their +9 even strength goal differential is third in the league. Their defense is even more outstanding once you realize that five of those goals against came in a blowout loss. Two of those five goals were empty net goals. Four more of those 18 goals allowed were scored on the second game of games on consecutive nights.

The Capitals have been getting scoring from a variety of sources this season. Captain Alex Ovechkin is up to his usual tricks with five goals and nine points in his first six games. Center Nicklas Backstrom is off to a hot start after missing the first three games of the season. He has four goals and seven points in his first four games. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov has done the impossible and unseated Backstrom as the first line center with 11 points.

Defenseman John Carlson is looking like a strong Norris Trophy contender with 10 points. Goalie Braden Holtby has been outstanding when the Caps have needed him to be outstanding (which hasn’t been often). New forwards T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams have made a strong impression so far with a combined 13 points.

They have nine players with at least five points. That’s a well-balanced offense. Their penalty kill lost three of their most used forwards last season in Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, and Troy Brouwer. Center Jay Beagle and forwards Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera have paved the way for a better penalty kill.

The Capitals rank third in even strength score-adjusted CF% (55.1%), seventh in even strength score-adjusted scoring chances for percentage (52.9%), fourth in even strength score-adjusted high-danger scoring chances for percentage (55.6%), and fourth in even strength Fenwick Close percentage (55.9%).

It’s still early in the season. The Capitals are clearly the team to beat in the Metropolitan Division. It’ll be interesting to see how the team responds after a five-day break when they play the Penguins on Wednesday. A break might be the worst thing for the Caps right now. They’re playing extremely well.

Next: Five Reasons Why The Caps Can Win The Stanley Cup

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