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Who's hot and who's not?: Oshie is crushing it while Ovechkin searches for scoring touch

Who's hot and who's not?: Oshie is crushing it while Ovechkin searches for scoring touch

Once a week this season, we're taking a closer look at the numbers and pointing out a few trends that every Capitals fan should know about.

Hot

T.J. Oshie

In his last 11 games, Oshie has seven goals and five assists. Since Jan. 1, in fact, the first line winger is the Caps’ leading goal scorer with 14. That’s two more than anyone else on the team…and Oshie missed six games during that stretch. With one more goal, Oshie will match his career high of 26, which he set last season. And the timing couldn’t be better for the 30-year-old, who is setting himself up for a big free agent contract this offseason. “Every player handles it differently,” Coach Barry Trotz said of contract year pressure. “Some players have career years on those years. Some players wilt under that pressure. He’s real focused. He’s having an exceptional year.”    

Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom leads the Caps in points with 67 (21 goals, 46 assists) in 65 games. And he's been red hot the past 15 contests. During that span, the 29-year-old center has eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points—seven more than any of his teammates in that timeframe. Backstrom also logged seven shots against the Stars. He hasn’t taken seven shots in a game since 2013. So, yeah, he’s feeling it.

Penalty kill

The Caps’ penalty kill has risen to fourth (tie) entering Wednesday’s game with an effectiveness rate of 85.0 percent. Over the past 10 games, the Jay Beagle-and Karl Alzner-led unit has thwarted 25 of 28 shorthanded situations. This, of course, is a good thing for a team that’s got a penchant for taking minor penalties. In fact, since Dec. 31, the Caps have been assessed 124 minors. The next team is Tampa Bay with 106.

RELATED: Caps' playoff opponent watch: Battling Brooklyn

Cold

Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin has not scored a goal at even strength since Jan. 31—a span of 15 games—and has no goals in the Caps’ last seven contests. Overall, the 31-year-old has 27 goals (two more than Oshie) and is on pace for 34. Ovechkin had 50 or more each of the last three seasons. Asked about the downturn this week, Trotz said he’s confident his captain will get hot. “Early in that [slump], I don’t think he was getting very many chances,” Trotz said. “I think he’s working better for those chances [now]. He’s going to score, I’m pretty sure about that. …He’ll get back on track and get hot here. It’s tightening up now [so] you have to work for your goals, you have to work for your space.”

Goals per game since the bye

From Jan. 3 - Feb. 11, a span of 20 games, the Caps boasted the best offense in the NHL, scoring a total of 93 goals (4.65 per game). Then they had a six-day bye week. Since returning, they’ve scored 20 goals in nine games (2.22 per game). Sure, they’ve played a few desperate teams that adopted a, shall we say, defensive posture. (Flyers and Devils, I’m looking at you.) Still, it’s time for Ovechkin and Co. to bear down and get the “snipe” back in their game, as Trotz is fond of saying.  

Recent first periods

Entering Wednesday’s games, the Caps were tied with the Maple Leafs for the most first period goals (67) in the NHL. That trend, however, has been slowing as of late. In fact, in the nine games since the bye, they’ve come up empty in the first period six times. “We haven’t dominated,” Trotz said. “It was a sort of a mindset [prior to the hiatus]. We came out with a lot of juice and jumped on teams. And lately, we just haven’t. We haven't come out with that, ‘Let’s jump on you early and not give you a chance to get off the mat.’ We’ve been sorta saying, ‘Let’s see what happens.’”

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals ink two college free agents

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Capitals vs. Penguins 2017 Playoff schedule announced

Capitals vs. Penguins 2017 Playoff schedule announced

The Captials advanced to the second round of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to a Marcus Johansson overtime goal in Game 6 on Sunday night.

The Capitals will now face rival Pittsburgh Penguins, with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals on the line.

Game 1 will take place on Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Verizon Center.

Here is is the full schedule for the Capitals-Penguins 2017 playoff series.

CAPITALS VS. PENGUINS 2017 SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Penguins at Capitals. Thursday, April 27. 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 2: Penguins at Capitals. Saturday, April 29. 8:00 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 3: Capitals at Penguins. Monday, May 1. 7:30 p.m.. (NBCSN)

Game 4: Capitals at Penguins. Wednesday, May 3. 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 5 (If Necessary): Penguins at Capitals. Saturday, May 6. Time TBD (TBD)

Game 6 (If Necessary): Capitals at Penguins. Monday, May 8. Time TBD (TBD)

Game 7 (If Necessary): Penguins at Capitals. Wednesday, May 10. Time TBD (TBD)

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Alex Ovechkin takes Nazem Kadri on a ride with awkward suplex

Alex Ovechkin takes Nazem Kadri on a ride with awkward suplex

Alexander Ovechkin and Nazem Kadri made sure to find each other on the ice during Game 6 on Sunday night after the two were involved in a highly controversial sequence in Game 5.

With six minutes remaining in the second period of Game 6 at Air Canada Centre, Ovechkin attempted to regain control of the puck in the corner of the Maple Leaf's zone.

Kadri flew in and tried to take the puck from Ovechkin.

What resulted was a hilarious sequence in which Kadri ended up riding Ovechkin like a pony ride at a birthday party, before the Capitals' capitan suplexed the Maple Leafs winger on his backside.

RELATED: JUSTIN BIEBER IN ATTEDENCE AT GAME 6

Playoff hockey is fun, isn't it?