The Most Incredible Stat from Each Washington Capitals' Star's Career
The Caps won't be getting confused with deep teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins or Chicago Blackhawks anytime soon—or so it would seem—but the Caps are a solid team with very good players up and down the roster.
If you are looking for true star power on the Caps, however, there are only a handful of players to talk about. Those players have all had some truly amazing and memorable moments in their respective careers so far.
For the Capitals, I believe there are five players on the current roster who could rightfully be considered stars.
In this article, we will explore the most incredible stat from the careers, so far, of these five great players.
Braden Holtby's career is still so relatively new that it is hard to pinpoint just one stat and indicate that it is the most incredible stat of his young career.
Instead, what impresses me most about Holtby are his playoff stats and how those compare to some of the all-time greats in Stanley Cup playoff history.
So far, Holtby has played in 21 playoff games. He is 10-11 in those games with a shutout, a 2.04 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He has faced 664 shots in those 21 playoff games.
Probably the most impressive performance of Holtby's playoff career so far came in his debut series. During the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals, he outplayed the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Tim Thomas, as he led the Caps to a stunning upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
That series is the only one in NHL playoff history in which each of the seven games was decided by just one goal, in and of itself an incredible stat.
What is possibly even more impressive about Holtby—and a reason why Caps fans should feel good about the future of the club—is how his playoff stats, so far, compare to some of the best ever.
Patrick Roy made his playoff debut in the 1986 NHL playoffs, and he led the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. Along the way, Roy played in 20 games, registered a 15-5 record, had a 1.92 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
Martin Brodeur played in his second NHL playoffs during the 1995 season, and he led the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup that year. He played in 20 games during the 1995 playoffs and registered a 16-4 record with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
Ken Dryden made his NHL playoff debut during the 1971 NHL playoffs. Like Roy, he led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup championship in his first season. He too played in 20 games and had a 12-8 record with a 3.00 goals-against average.
Grant Fuhr led the Edmonton Oilers to their first Stanley Cup championship in 1984. It was Fuhr's first playoff run for the Oilers. He played in 16 games and posted an 11-4 record with a 2.99 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
Take a moment and review those stats and compare them to Holtby's. No, Holtby does not have the win-loss record of any of those players. And quite obviously, he does not have a Stanley Cup championship to his name.
But over a comparable number of playoff games, Holtby has a better goals-against average than Dryden or Fuhr and a better save percentage than Roy, Brodeur and Fuhr.
That is more than impressive—that is rather incredible.
One of the main reasons why the Washington Capitals struggled as much as they did for a good part of the 2013 season was because Brooks Laich only played in nine games all season long.
If you look back at Laich's career so far, his struggles with injuries during the 2013 season were quite out of place for him. In fact, Laich's durability is probably the most incredible stat of his career so far.
Whether or not Laich is the Caps' answer as far as a second-line center is concerned, he will get every opportunity imaginable to show he is worthy. If he is healthy, then he will have a pretty good chance to prove all those who doubt him wrong.
Being healthy has defined Laich's career thus far. From 2007 through 2012, Laich played in all 82 games four out of five seasons. The only season in which he did not play in all 82 games was the 2009-10 season—and even then Laich played in 78 games.
During that five-year stretch, Laich really made a name for himself and firmly implanted himself as a top player for the Caps. He scored 101 goals, had 137 assists, 238 points and a plus-18 rating.
As one can see, when Laich is healthy he is extremely effective and an essential part of the Caps' offense.
When you compare Laich's durability to other members of the Caps over the same time frame, his ability to escape injury and/or suspensions is even more impressive.
Alexander Ovechkin played in a full 82 games only once over that same time frame.
Nicklas Backstrom played a full 82 games three times but then ran into concussion problems during the 2011-12 season and only played in 42 games.
Mike Green managed a full 82 games only once, then ran into many of his own injury issues.
When Alexander Semin was a member of the Caps, he never played a full 82 games over the same time frame, his best outing being 77 games during the 2011-12 season.
Laich obviously had a rough time of things last season, and his absence was most certainly felt by the Caps. But his durability and reliability have always been his greatest assets to the team.
I expect to see a healthy and very motivated Laich this coming season.
Mike Green is somewhat of an anomaly.
He might be a defenseman, but he is much better known for his offensive contributions then for anything he has done as far as true defense is concerned.
In fact, a real argument can be made that Green has been very instrumental in redefining what a two-way defender is in this modern age of hockey.
Much of this took place during a three-year run, from 2007 to 2010, when Green truly asserted himself as one of the best two-way defenders in the history of the game.
During the 2007-08 season, Green and the Caps both caught fire. Playing in all 82 games, Green exploded onto the scene with 18 goals, 38 assists, 56 points, a plus-six rating and four game-winning goals.
This would be the first time, but not the last, that Green would lead all NHL defenders in goals scored.
The following season, though, is when Green's most incredible stat took place. On Valentine's Day in 2009, Green scored in his eighth consecutive game and set a record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman.
The record still stands.
Green would end the season with a phenomenal 31 goals. That has Green tied for 11th as far as most goals in a season for a defender. He shares this spot with players such as Denis Potvin and Ray Bourque. That's not bad company to keep at all.
The following season, Green would become a more polished all-around player. His goals slipped to just 19, but he also had 57 assists and a plus-39 rating. His 76 points gave him back-to-back 70-plus-point seasons for the Caps.
Green would have issues with injuries the next two seasons, and there was much speculation that his best years were behind him. Many Caps fans called for him to be traded.
But Green was relatively healthy during the 2013 season, and we saw more than just flashes of the old Green. He would lead all defenders with 12 goals and scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 2 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal against the New York Rangers.
During an incredible three-year period, Green would score 68 goals, notch 137 assists, amass 205 points, tally 36 power-play goals, have 12 game-winning goals and a plus-69 rating.
Like him or not, those are some pretty incredible stats.
With Nicklas Backstrom, there are a couple of stats I was looking at that could qualify as the most incredible of his relatively young career.
The first aspect of this focuses on Backstrom's career in Sweden, before he became a member of the Capitals. Backstrom was one of the most highly touted Swedish prospects in many years, which was a main reason the Caps drafted him No. 4 overall in the 2006 NHL draft.
If you look at Backstrom's resume in Sweden, it is easy to see why. Backstrom was just 15 years old when he began playing for Brynas IF of the J20 SuperElit league.
Several years later, however, is when Backstrom would truly make a name for himself. During the 2006 World Championships, Backstrom played and, in so doing, became the youngest Swedish player to play in the Championships (18 years and six months).
Backstrom played in four games. He did not score a point, but his arrival on the international scene had been announced all the same.
Backstrom would play in the World Championships for Sweden the next two years. He would play in 18 games and would score four goals with nine assists.
Once Backstrom came to the Capitals, his success continued. Like many of the Capitals mentioned in this article, he exploded onto the scene during his rookie season in 2008.
Early on in the season, Backstrom got the opportunity to play on the Caps' top line alongside Alexander Ovechkin. The two fit together tremendously well and both men benefited from the play of the other. The Caps' top line quickly emerged as one of the best in the NHL.
Backstrom would end his rookie season with 14 goals and 55 assists. His 55 assists is a Caps team record for the most assists in a season by a rookie.
Consider that for a moment. Backstrom had more assists in his rookie season than even the Great 8 (Ovi had 54 assists in his rookie season and 106 points, a Caps' season record for points by a rookie). That is an incredible stat indeed.
Backstrom has evolved into one of the most complete players on the Caps. His being paired with Ovechkin once again in 2013 led to Ovi's rise back to elite status among NHL scoring leaders.
Look for more heroics and incredible moments from Backstrom and Ovechkin during the 2013-14 season.
Alexander Ovechkin's career has been filled with incredible stats and amazing moments. Picking the most incredible out of them is a daunting task, to say the very least.
Peruse Ovechkin's Wikipedia page for a moment and you might be a bit overwhelmed by the list of accomplishments.
From the standpoint of Capitals team records, Ovi holds several that could be classified as incredible. The ones that stand out to me are the team records for most goals in a season (65), most seasons with 50 or more goals (something Ovi has done on four occasions) and his 11-game point streak when he was a rookie.
From the grander stage of NHL records, again several of Ovi's accomplishments are awe-inspiring. Included in this list are his NHL records for most goals scored by a left-winger in a season (65 during the 2007-08 season), most points scored by a left-wing rookie (106 during the 2005-06 season) and his eight-game point-scoring streak to start his NHL career.
But as far as the most incredible stat of Ovechkin's career, we will go back, yet again, to the 2007-08 season. It was during and after this season that Ovechkin pulled off something truly incredible.
Ovi's 65 goals led the NHL and he received the Rocket Richard Trophy for his efforts.
Ovi also led the NHL that season with 112 points, and this earned him the Art Ross Trophy.
When the season ended, however, two more awards were coming Ovi's way. First he was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's MVP. Ovi was then awarded the Lester B. Pearson award, the NHLPA's version of the MVP trophy.
When this happened, Ovechkin became the first player in NHL history to ever win the Ross, Richard, Hart and Pearson awards in one season. For that matter, he became the first player to ever win all four major awards.
It will be a feat that will be extremely difficult for anyone, including Ovechkin, to repeat.
Take this past season for instance. Ovechkin became the first three-time winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy and also claimed his third Hart Memorial Trophy.
Yet he lost out on the Art Ross trophy to Martin St. Louis. His arch-rival, Sidney Crosby, was awarded the Ted Lindsay award, which is what the Pearson award was renamed after the 2009-10 season.
As such, winning all four major awards simultaneously a second time might be nothing more than a pipe dream.
But for that one magical run during the 2007-08 season, Ovechkin did something truly incredible.