Capitals

Quick Links

Why a road trip could be just what the Caps need to break out of their slump

usatsi_10358218.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Why a road trip could be just what the Caps need to break out of their slump

After two exciting wins to start the season, the Caps have already hit a rough patch with five losses in their last seven games, three of which came on home ice. That may make their upcoming three-game road trip to Western Canada seem like it is coming at an inopportune time, but not to the players.

With their struggles at home and several newcomers to the roster, the players feel their trip to Canada could not have come at a better time.

“I think right now with our situation I think it’d be good for us,” Brett Connolly said after practice on Monday. “Just get on the road and be with each other.”

“It's fun to get on the road and I think that'll be great for our team right now,” Wilson said. “There's new guys, you get closer kind of off the ice and that'll transition kind of into playing for each other on the ice and hopefully creating that chemistry and just getting to know each other.”

RELATED:  JAY BEAGLE SCORED IN HIS 400TH GAME AND IT WAS PRETTY COOL

The importance of being successful at home is stressed in every sport, but sometimes it can be good to get away and hit the road with teammates. Road trips are where teams seem to bond the most as they spend even more time together on the road than they do at home.

“We’re around our teammates every day,” Connolly said. “When we're at home, we're not seeing a ton of our teammates so when we're on the road, we're all hanging out, going to dinner, doing whatever else we're doing whether it's shopping or whatever. It's good to be with each other and gain that chemistry that you need to be a good team for sure.”

Every team in the NHL faces lengthy trips at some point over the course of the campaign. Those trips can make or break a season. For a Capitals team that has played better on the road (3-1-1) than at home (1-3-0) to start the season, this trip that will see them go to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary could be a turning point in the early going for Washington.

MORE CAPITALS: WHAT DOES BURAKOVSKY'S INJURY MEAN FOR THE CAPS?

The focus is always about winning hockey games, but of course the players enjoy getting away for some time with the boys.

“The NHL road trips nowadays are pretty good,” Wilson said. “You stay in a nice hotel, you're eating really nice meals and it's run pretty first class so it's fun for the young guys to see and it's fun for the boys to kind of be a group and just kind of keep it rolling and have fun with it.”

As fun as the players may have, this remains very much a business trip for the team. With a 4-4-1 record and struggles at home ice, they need to return to Washington with more chemistry and, most importantly, more points in the standings.

Said Wilson, “I think everyone kind of can agree, it's a time for the team to get closer and hopefully we can get this thing to rolling, string together some wins and come back and keep that going back on home ice.”

Quick Links

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

usatsi_10625303.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!

Quick Links

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby.

Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty-handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1.

It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.