Upon reflection, Alex Ovechkin griped about the Washington Capitals meeting the Pittsburgh Penguins – arguably a matchup of the East’s two best playoff teams – in the second round of the 2016 postseason. It felt unlucky to Ovechkin, and likely others.
The Capitals can’t complain about one big luck factor, however: health. They’ve been insanely sturdy in 2016-17, and to some extent during the Barry Trotz era.
NHL Man Games Lost is an essential resource for tracking such figures. With the 2017 NHL All-Star Break serving as a natural stopping point, this seems like a great opportunity to drop our jaws in awe at Washington’s astounding luck in this area:
Remarkably, the Capitals ranked as one of the healthiest teams in 2015-16, too:
Maybe the Capitals feel like they can get more out of a player like Andre Burakovsky. And, sure, bounces go their opponents’ way in plenty of cases. Even so, this is a pretty unlikely run of luck.
It’s difficult to hatch many theories about why this might be happening. Maybe the Capitals follow the lead of their sturdy, constantly scoring captain Alex Ovechkin. He’s played 888 regular season to Sidney Crosby‘s 749 since their rookie seasons in 2005-06. Ovechkin’s never played fewer than 72 games in a non-lockout season, and usually plays at least 78.
Perhaps there’s something about Trotz’s system that leaves the Capitals less susceptible to big hits? Maybe not whining to refs as often is good for the health?
Whatever the case may be, it’s pretty remarkable stuff. If they can stay this healthy throughout 2016-17, they’ll be that much tougher to beat.