Capitals Game Day
Vibe Check: Capitals Roll Coyotes, Wilson Thriving, Strome’s Revenge
The vibes were immaculate on Thursday as the Washington Capitals topped the Arizona Coyotes, 4-0, and got huge games from numerous players. Here’s a vibe check and key stats to know.
The Washington Capitals did all the right things on Thursday and started a crucial three-game western road trip on a strong note with a 4-0 shutout win over the Arizona Coyotes, and the vibes are back up as the team continues to work its way back up to standards following a bit of a lull through January.
So, with the vibes being immaculate right now, I'm launching a new postgame segment called "Vibe Check," where I'll take you through key numbers and see where things stack up from numerous standpoints while sharing some fast facts and other important notes from the game.
Here's what went into Thursday's positive "vibe check."
Tom Wilson Earns The Rope With Standout Showing
Wilson led the way for D.C. and was easily the player of the game on Friday. His "BMW" line with Sonny Milano and Nicklas Backstrom has been one of the best combinations of late, as the trio's expected goals-for is through the roof. Wilson potted an assist earlier in the game on a Milano strike in the second, and then later on, "Whip" ended an 0-for-14 power-play drought with a PPG on a great tip in front.
The 28-year-old now has three points in his last three games, with two goals in that span as well. But beyond that, he also had a strong game without the puck. Wilson had three hits and logged quite a bit of time on the power play and penalty kill, and he battled hard in both ends and showed grit at both ends of the ice. He had three hits and also drew a penalty, and he has already drawn three penalties through six games. No. 43 also silenced Jakob Chychrun with only his presence, as Chychrun backed off Nick Jensen and Lars Eller after Wilson came over to investigate.
Now six games back into his return from ACL surgery, Wilson appears more comfortable and is getting more chances with each game that goes by.
Nicklas Backstrom's Historic Milestone
Nicklas Backstrom also helped power the success of the BMW trio and earned his 750th career assist on Thursday. He now ranks third in assists among all players since making his NHL debut back on Oct. 5, 2007, as he is one behind Patrick Kane and 26 behind leader Sidney Crosby.
Backstrom, like Wilson, appears to be getting more comfortable and confident with each game. He has three assists in six games so far and he's making great passes and playing solid hockey at both ends, while he's also been working wonders in the face-off dot.
Dylan Strome Gets His Revenge
In 2015, Strome went third overall to the Coyotes, but things never really worked out between the two, which resulted in a trade to the Chicago Blackhawks. In his first game at Mullett Arena and his first game against his former club since he joined D.C., Strome made an immediate impact.
Just over three minutes into the game, No. 17 tipped home his 10th of the season to make it 1-0. He leads all Capitals forwards in goals off tip-ins/deflections this season (4). He struck again in the third on an easy layup courtesy of Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Through 11 career games against Arizona, Strome has five goals and two assists for seven points. He is now on pace to hit 19 goals and is on pace to hit a career-high 59 points this season. He has fit in perfectly in D.C. (as is the case with Milano), and he is making quite a case for an extension to boot.
Darcy Kuemper Shuts Door, Moves Up Goaltending League Leaderboard
With a 27-save performance, Darcy Kuemper earned his league-leading fifth shutout of the season against his former club and also captured his 30th career shutout. The 32-year-old is now at a .920 save percentage through 30 games this season, which ranks fifth among all goaltenders with at least 29 games played this season.
Washington Capitals Continue To Impress On Road
The Capitals' win gives them a 9-1-0 record in their last 10 games away from Capital One Arena. Dating back to Dec. 5, Washington has outscored their opponents on the road, 43-20. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov also chipped in multi-point outings.
Against the Coyotes, Washington did everything right. The team controlled the tempo and managed the puck well and didn't give up much. Ultimately, the one goal the Capitals did give up was a fluky goal off a skate that ultimately didn't count (offsides). They also dominated offensively for the most part, maintained possession and sustained pressure while extending their zone time.
FINAL VIBE CHECK RATING: Immaculate, 20/10