The Washington Capitals continue to be the premier team in the NHL. They have the best record in the league (15-4-0), have scored the most goals (96), are unbeaten against Patrick Division opponents (9-0-O), have won four in a row and seven of their past eight games, are averaging 5.05 goals and have scored five or more goals in 13 of their 19 games.
"I could see we were becoming a good team at the end of the last season," said Capitals general manager David Poile. "It was just a matter of everything coming together. Things seemed to point toward a good team this season."
Poile acquired a solid defenseman, Sylvain Cote, and speedy forwards Randy Burridge and Todd Krygier during the off-season and everything has come together.
"We are playing very well," Poile said. "Our defense is doing a splendid job and we have a number of players who are contributing offensively."
With projected superstar Eric Lindros deciding to play with the Oshawa Generals in the Canadian juniors and for Team Canada instead of becoming an instant millionaire by signing with the Quebec Nordiques, the rookie talent is rather thin in the NHL this season.
"I haven't seen anyone who strikes me as a superstar in the making," said Hall of Famer Bill Barber, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers. "No one has made a great impression on me as some young players have in the past."
Marcel Pelletier, scout for the Boston Bruins, agrees with Barber that there is not a great abundance of rookie talent this year, but Pelletier has seen a few first-year players who have impressed him.
"I like [right wing] Stephan Lebeau of the Montreal Canadiens, [left wing] Kevin Todd of the New Jersey Devils, [left wing] Tony Amonte of the New York Rangers and [right wing] Pat Falloon of the San Jose Sharks," said Pelletier. "Lebeau is a very fast skater and is a good shooter. Todd is a little guy [5 feet 10, 170 pounds], but he is tough. He goes into the corners and makes the plays. Amonte knows how to get into the open and he has great hands. He is a very good shooter. Falloon . . . can play any of the forward positions and is the type of player who makes things happen."
Capitals milestones: Mike Liut has won 291 NHL games, moving him ahead of Ed Giacomin into 10th place in the all-time goaltender standings. Liut has a way to go to catch ninth-place Turk Broda, who has 302 wins. Liut also has 25 shutouts in a 13-year career. Right wing Dino Ciccarelli scored his 800th NHL point. Center Dale Hunter has gone over the 700-point mark. Cote reached the 100-point mark and the 400-game plateau last Wednesday. Left wing Kelly Miller scored his 100th NHL goal on Friday.