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Penalties And Peter: A Rare Positive In Capitals History


With just 13 games remaining in the 2022-23 NHL schedule, the Washington Capitals have yet to be eliminated from playoff contention. And last night’s 5-4 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres gave a much-needed boost in maintaining the hopes for Capitals Nation.

Regardless of the Capitals ultimate playoff fate, this could very well be head coach Peter Laviolette’s last baker’s dozen of games at the helm in Washington. Laviolette has received a lot of heat during his tenure in the District, mostly related to his managing and use of younger players. He’s also battled through a mountain of adversity, including a pandemic and an epidemic of injuries.

Regardless of Laviolette’s future status with the team, win, lose or draw, one stat that stands out in Laviolette’s favor is a rarity for the Capitals in franchise history. Net penalties.

The following table plots the Capitals net penalties per season from 1974 to present and blocks the seasons by Capitals head coaches:

Laviolette is the first coach since Adam Oates and second head coach in 30 years to post a positive net penalty differential over the course of their head coaching tenure.

On a side note, we’ve posted on this topic before (here) but it’s worthy to restate because it truly is an oddity, and that;s the dramatic shift for the Capitals, organizationally, that took place in the 1993-94 season. Prior to that season the Capitals were in the positive each and every season in the history of the franchise. Following that season, they were in the negative 24 of the next 30 seasons. What happened in the 1993-94 season?

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.

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