Earning five out of a possible eight points in a four-game road swing—including three points in the dreaded California gauntlet of Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose—would be a successful trip for most teams.
The Capitals, however, are not most teams.
In those four games, the Caps never held the lead in any of them. Both of the team's wins came in overtime. Now after giving up the first goal in all four games and losing their last two, head coach Barry Trotz decided to mix things up at practice Monday.
Here are the lines from practice:
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Jay Beagle
Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Justin Williams
Daniel Winnik - Mike Richards - Tom Wilson
Yes, should these lines hold for Tuesday's game it will mean the return of Beagle to the top line.
"Maybe Oshie don't want to play with us," Ovechkin said after practice. The real reason, however, is that Trotz is looking for a spark.
"Every time I put [Beagle] up there I think it forces the line to go north," Trotz said. "We've had good production when we've put him up there. He goes and gets pucks. I think he drives the guys around him. He's an engine, he pushes people forward.
"I thought he was our best player in San Jose so he gets the first call. Simple as that."
For his part, Beagle knows what his job is when he's skating alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom.
"Get them the puck," Beagle said. "I just try and keep it simple."
Beagle is not a typical top line player, but with the team in a bit of a funk, every line is getting a bit of a makeover.
Ovechkin has been held without a goal for five games. The third line of Chimera-Johansson-Wilson, meanwhile, which had looked dominant when Johansson was moved there now has struggled with all three players combining for just five points in the team's last 10 games. The addition of the always dangerous Williams on the right side will instantly make that line more potent.
But players and lines go through slumps. The real concern continues to be the team's poor starts as the Caps have now allowed the first goal in 13 of their last 15 games.
When asked if he had any concerns about his team, Trotz said, "Yeah I have concerns, first period concerns. The same ones you have."
"Obviously start is something that we've talked about a lot," Beagle said. "We have to find a way to get a better start, have to find a way to get a lead and play with a lead. It obviously shows great resiliency coming back and shows the fire power we have, but we can't always make our push in the third. We've got to come out and play for a full 60."
It's something the team is well aware of and, quite clearly, tired of thinking about.
"To be honest, I'm kind of sick of talking about it," Justin Williams said. "I think it's been brought up so many times that we can deal with it ourselves. The answers are within here. We don't need to beat the horse all the time."
Until the problem is solved, however, it's something the Caps are going to have to keep hearing.
"I'm bringing it up everyday until it's fixed," Trotz said. "There's only one way to get us to stop talking about it, right? Fix it."