The Washington Capitals sit atop the NHL once again as of today, thanks in part to an impressive streak in which they won six in a row and eight of their last nine games.
That might not be a big surprise, but the way in which they’re doing it is: the Caps are winning many of their games in come-from-behind fashion. As it turns out, when it comes to Washington, no lead is particularly safe.
It’s unclear why, exactly, they’re forming this trend aside from the obvious fact that they employ an explosive ensemble of players from Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom to Mike Green. My guess is they also have a tendency to seduce other teams into playing their wide-open style of hockey, much like the Phoenix Suns would continue to push the pace of games to dictate their fast break offense.
John Kreiser of NHL.com provides some interesting numbers regarding the team’s new tendency to overcome deficits.
Over the course of the season, teams that score first win about 65 percent of the time. But the Caps are doing it backwards — they’ve got 12 victories despite being scored on first 12 times in their 16 games, including Thursday’s 6-3 victory against Tampa Bay. Washington is 9-3-0 when allowing the first goal, a pace that history says will be impossible to sustain.
It’s a big contrast from last season, when the Capitals were second in the NHL with 52 first goals (Chicago was tops with 56) and had a 38-7-7 record in those games. They won 16 of the 30 games in which they allowed the first goal — the only team in the NHL with a winning percentage of .500 or better when doing so.
While it might be unsustainable, it’s a great thing for hockey. When you have a team as good as the Capitals winning despite falling behind, it encourages fans to keep watching and also indicates that the team won’t roll over and die in the face of adversity. You have to wonder if such an attitude might hint at the possibility that this team is getting ready to progress from a regular season juggernaut to a legitimate playoff threat.