The Washington Post

Capitals prove that teamwork works

- FRED BOWEN kidspost@washpost.com Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 21 sports books for kids. He hasn’t written any

Maybe it’s because I’m stuck inmy house surrounded by two feet of unplowed snow and ice that I am thinking about hockey.

The Washington Capitals are playing great. The Caps were leading the National Hockey League (NHL) with a record of 35-8-3 (35 wins, eight losses and three overtime losses) before last night’s game with the Philadelph­ia Flyers.

The Caps’ record is no accident. Washington leads the NHL in goals scored per game, goals allowed per game and power-play goals.

Why is Washington playing so well? A couple of reasons stand out.

Balance: For the past several years, the Caps were the Alex Ovechkin show. The superstar wing was most of the team’s offense. During the 2014-2015 season, for example, Ovechkin scored 53 goals. The team’s next-highest scorer had only 21 goals.

Ovechkin is still the Caps’ leading scorer, but more players are helping out. Take a look below at who is contributi­ng the most points. (Goals plus assists, or passes that lead to goals, equal points.)

Evgeny Kuznetsov is a star in the making. For years, the Caps have searched for a second-line center who is as good as Nicklas Backstrom. They may have found him in the 23-yearold stickhandl­ing wizard from Russia.

Braden Holtby: You can’t have a good hockey team without a rocksolid defense. Washington has one, led by goaltender Holtby.

The Caps’ net-minder is ranked Number 2 in the NHL for goals allowed. Holtby lets in only about two goals a game. He is also tied for fifth in the NHL in save percentage. He blocks 93 percent of the pucks shot at his net. Ninety-three percent is a good mark in just about anything.

So will the new, improved Caps win the Stanley Cup? Over the years, Washington has had a disappoint­ing record in the NHL playoffs.

I think it will be different in 2016. This season the Caps have a real team, with lots of players contributi­ng.

Too often, sportscast­ers and sportswrit­ers say that an individual — basketball player LeBron James or football player Tom Brady, for example — has won so many championsh­ips. That kind of talk is misleading, especially to kids. In team sports, no one player, nomatter how talented, wins a championsh­ip by himself or herself. Teams win championsh­ips.

Stuck inside, I am dreaming of a championsh­ip run to the Stanley Cup by our Capitals.

Or maybe a snowplow coming down my street.

 ?? FRANK FRANKLIN II/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? ABOVE: The Capitals celebrate during a victory over the New York Islanders on January 7. Washington leads the league in goals per game. BELOW: Alex Ovechkin is the Caps’ leading scorer, but more players are helping out this season.
FRANK FRANKLIN II/ASSOCIATED PRESS ABOVE: The Capitals celebrate during a victory over the New York Islanders on January 7. Washington leads the league in goals per game. BELOW: Alex Ovechkin is the Caps’ leading scorer, but more players are helping out this season.
 ?? DREW HALLOWELL/GETTY IMAGES ??
DREW HALLOWELL/GETTY IMAGES

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