We all know that they're playing at a playoff-caliber (100 point) pace since the change.
But Caps fans might need more context by which to judge their team, and the favorite stick by which to measure, of course, is the Pittsburgh Penguins. With that in mind, let's take a look at what both teams have done since the Caps pulled the trigger and canned Hanlon:
- Washington: 7-4-2 (16 points); 3.15 G/G; 2.77 GAA; 20.0% PP; 89.3% PK
- Pittsburgh: 8-4-0 (16 points); 2.67 G/G; 2.83 GAA; 18.5% PP; 73.6% PK
What about individual players? Let's take a look at the Pens' "big three + one" over that span:
- Sidney Crosby: 4G, 9A, +3
- Evgeni Malkin: 3G, 6A, -4
- Jordan Staal: G, 4A, +1
- Ryan Whitney: 4G, 2A, +1
- Alexander Ovechkin: 10G, 6A, +4
- Alexander Semin: 2G, 3A, -4 (11 games played)
- Nicklas Backstrom: 4G, 8A, even
- Mike Green: 5G, 2A, +4
- Marc-Andre Fleury: 4-0-0, 1.41 GAA, .936 SV%
- Olie Kolzig: 5-4-2, 2.86 GAA, .890 SV%
Secondly, the Caps would likely be better than 7-4-2 if Olie Kolzig was playing better. Currently, he's 33rd in the League in GAA and 34th in save percentage. Unfortunately, his numbers since Boudreau took over are very similar to his numbers under Hanlon and hence, overall - the rising tide hasn't quite lifted all ships in D.C. Olie simply needs to be better if the Caps are going to make a run in the standings. There aren't 30+ goalies in the League you'd rather have as your number one netminder than Kolzig (heck, go ahead and try to list 15 in the comments - bet you can't), and his numbers need to start reflecting that.
The thing to take away here is that the many people who picked the Caps to be "this year's Penguins" (i.e. a young team that breaks through) might have been right all along - the team numbers listed above would all be good enough to be in the top half of the League for the season - albeit they had to wait a bit longer than they anticipated. The 2007-08 Penguins are a good team. But right now, the 2007-08 Caps are a better team. They're a better team than a lot of the teams in front of them in the Eastern Conference. And if things break the right way, the Caps could even have a shot at passing the Pens in the standings when the two teams face off in Pittsburgh on the 27th of this month. By any measure, that would be a hell of an achievement.
- Hart: Jason Spezza (2G, including the game-winner, 4 SOG)
- Ross: Henrik Sedin, Michal Rozsival (3 points each)
- Norris: Andrei Markov (2G, 2 SOG, 2 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Roberto Luongo (32-save shutout win)
- Richard: Jason Spezza, Andrei Markov, Markus Naslund, Scott Gomez (2G each)
- Calder: Peter Mueller (Game-winning goal, +1, 4 SOG)
- Aiken: Johan Holmqvist (L, 3 goals allowed on 9 shots against in one period of work)