5 Reasons Behind Washington Capitals’ Hot Streak

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All Smiles Lately for the Caps

All Smiles Lately for the Caps
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

There is something in the water over at the Washington Capitals these days. The boys in red have won three straight and hope to continue that streak on Thursday night against a Minnesota Wild team that’s on a streak of its own.

The Capitals have outscored their last three opponents by 15-4, with every player taking at least one shot in the 6-2 mauling of the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. The defense is suddenly less thin, the forecheck is solid and mistakes are scarce.

The beginning of the NHL 2013-14 season didn’t look so great for the Capitals, with some downright ugly losses and wins to start the campaign. Consequently, there was some tinkering of the lines. Some of the shuffling worked, but some didn’t. However, let’s credit head coach Adam Oates with settling on his current four lines, which I see producing the goods in the upcoming games.

The penalty kill and the power play are dazzling right now for Washington. The Caps went 4-for-6 on the man advantage over the Islanders to solidify their status as the NHL’s best power play unit. Coupled with their No. 1 extra man ranking is their No. 1 penalty kill outfit. These stats are extremely uplifting. It doesn’t matter if the opposition allows penalties or the Caps allow them. Either way, Washington has a massive advantage.

The current hot streak by the Caps may get a little trickier to uphold with some well above .500 teams to play next (The Wild, Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche), but I can see the Caps squeaking at least two wins in that trio of games, as long as they stay focused.

Let’s take a look at what has fueled the recent sparkling play by the Capitals.

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The Defense

The Defense
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

What was looking like Swiss cheese at the beginning of the season is now performing as solidly as a Swiss Army knife. They’ve shored up enough to get the puck where it should be: on their forwards’ sticks. Additionally, D-man John Carlson has scored a goal in two straight games.

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The Third Line

The Third Line
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Jason Chimera, Mikhail Grabovski and Joel Ward have 35 points among them. The two burly wingers and their skillful center are a big reason as to why the Caps are suddenly heading upwards.

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The Penalty Kill

The Penalty Kill
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Caps lead the NHL on the penalty kill at 91.5 percent. Why? They seem to know exactly how their opposition operates on the power play and disrupt it accordingly. I call that good coaching.

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The Power Play

The Power Play
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Enough has been said, and said again, about the Caps’ No. 1 man-advantage unit. However, I’ll add two more words into the commentary as to why it does so well: Adam Oates.

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Goals!

Goals!
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Call me old fashioned, but I believe that scoring lots of goals will win you a hockey game. The Caps have been throwing them in from every source as of late. Washington has averaged five per game over their last three outings. Alexander Urbom’s bomb against the Islanders was a treat for sore eyes.

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