Balancing ActPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Tomorrow night the Caps take to the ice at Verizon Center to take aim on just the third 4-0 start in franchise history. With three overtime or shootout decisions in their first three games, the Caps are still far from being at their best, but they're also still 3-0. A couple of quick indicators show how balanced the '11-12 Caps are. Sixteen different players have scored at least a point for the Caps thus far this season. No other NHL team has more players with at least a point; Detroit and Tampa Bay also boast 16. To be fair, some teams have only played one or two games to date but some (including the Lightning) have played more than Washington's three. The Caps are also getting regular offensive contributions from the blueline with a total of three goals and 10 points coming from five different defensemen in three games. Defensemen Mike Green and Dennis Wideman have been responsible for the Caps' two overtime game-winners to date, too. Finally, there is smaller spread between Washington's blueline ice distribution than in recent years, a possible sign of better depth on the backline. Sometimes, tightness between blueline ice time is an indication of mediocrity or the lack of a true No. 1 or top pair. But Washington has more quality, proven defensemen on its roster than it has had in perhaps a decade. Through three games, only five minutes separate the average ice time of the six defensemen starting with Mike Green's 22:53 and extending to Jeff Schultz's 17:53. Only two teams currently have a tighter spread; Carolina and Phoenix are both at 4:39. Prior to last season, the Caps' tightest blueline ice distribution of the decade was 6:28 between the top six in 2000-01. That figure was as high as 11:20 in 2002-03 including only defensemen who played in at least half the team's games. Last season's 5:25 was the club's best mark since 2000-01, and they've done even better -- albeit in a very small sample size -- early in 2011-12.
Way back in the NHL’s inaugural season of 1917-18, a guy named Cy Denneny skated for the original Ottawa Senators. More than a decade later, when Denneny was finishing up his NHL career with the Boston Bruins in 1928-29, one of his teammates was a rookie goaltender named Tiny Thopmson. Denneny and