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.”
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.
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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.”