Capitals Are the NHL’s Healthy Champions

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Posted March 15, 2020

T.J. Oshie hasn’t played a full season in his career yet but is on pace to do so this year. (Caps Outsider)

For the second straight season, the Washington Capitals have missed the fewest games in the NHL due to injury. In fact, the Caps have routinely been one of the healthier teams in recent years. This year, John Carlson, Jakub Vrana, T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller and Dmitry Orlov have played all 69 games.

Here’s how the Caps have ranked compared to other NHL teams in terms of fewest games missed, via nhlinjuryviz.blogspot.com:

  • 2019-20 rank: #1
  • 2018-19 rank: #1
  • 2017-18 rank: #2
  • 2016-17 rank: #1
  • 2015-16 rank: #6

We all know that playing lots of hockey takes a toll on players, particularly hard-hitting ones like Alex Ovechkin. Ovi has even made it a point in recent years to sit out the All Star game – which requires a one-game suspension – to rest up. And we’ve certainly seen the Capitals show signs of fatigue in the second half of recent seasons, including this one.

At the start of the last few seasons, when everyone is fresh, the Caps keep storming out of the gate, smoking teams and looking invincible. Halfway through, having missed fewer man-games than other teams, they’re thatmuch less fresh, thatmuch slower, and often lose by thatmuch or even THATMUCH.

‘Playing too much’ isn’t a great excuse for professional athletes, nor is it the only excuse for poor play at times.

Yet, it’s absolutely true that resting more – which injury time provides – is beneficial to players, particularly if the injury is something minor. This obviously doesn’t include injuries where the player comes back and isn’t the same, which may be the case with Michal Kempny right now. But we’ve also seen players like Sidney Crosby – who has missed months with various head injuries – come storming back with fresh legs. Meanwhile, Ovi, who consistently puts up ~50 goals in ~80 games, has stretches where he looks as if he could use a break.

The season’s suspension due to the coronavirus will reset all of the teams once play resumes, and the Capitals, who have been struggling as of late, can only benefit from the rest. We’ll see how things go once the season resumes but all things considered, this time off could be a blessing.

Note that sites like mangameslost.com go into further detail with the analytics surrounding missed games.

Another Alex Ovechkin Goal Counter Bobblehead!