Washington Capitals: Eleven Reasons To Be Thankful

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Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Line

If you’re like me, then you were probably wincing in anticipatory pain every time Karl Alzner and John Carlson quickly laid their bodies down on the ice to block an incoming shot on the Washington net during Monday’s 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Alzner and Carlson, along with the entire team defense have been exemplary in their shot blocking efforts this season – yielding us the second best statistics for Shots Against in the entire league.

I’m no great player myself, but I’ve laid down and blocked a shot or two before and let me tell you – it hurts. Sure, the players wear padding around their ribs and sides, but it’s rarely ever enough to dampen the impact of a 6 ounce disk being shot directly at you. I’m pretty confident these guys have all sorts of welts and bruises to show for their efforts in keeping the puck distant from Braden Holtby and it’s rare that anyone ever comments on it. I am, so thank you Caps’ defense.

Karl Alzner has done this 42 times over 20 games already. John Carlson has done it for another 31. Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt and Taylor Chorney combine for another 92 blocked shots. Clearly, this is a directive for the team that comes from the entire coaching staff and our boys are committed to making it happen. These guys have taken their job very seriously, which is good because that’s 165 shots that goaltender Braden Holtby didn’t have to face.

READ MORE: For Capitals, Defense is Defining Season

Blocking 165 shots in 20 games is averaging about 8.25 blocked shots per game. It projects to 676.5 for the entire regular season. That’s an awful lot of sacrifice for our defensemen to give and it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed – at least not by us. So, thank you Capitals’ defense. Your play this season (and last) has defined the Trotz’ era of Caps hockey. With a defense as good as this one in place: we’re ready to grab ourselves our first Stanley Cup in late Spring 2016.

Next: The Man With the Plans