Washington Capitals Show Resilience Heading Into Christmas


Heading into Christmas, the Washington Capitals have been forced to show some resilience. Their success proves that the Caps are more than just 17 players on the ice – they are a team. 

The Washington Capitals are currently owners of the best record in the NHL at 25-6-2. Their goal differential of +34 leads the NHL. They have scored the third-most goals per game in the NHL with 3.12 and they have allowed the fewest goals per game with 2.15. On paper, the Caps have largely dominated teams. Their goal differential reflects that. Starting on December 18th, the Capitals had to prove to themselves that they could win games in the face of adversity, something that they hadn’t faced much of to that point. The Caps passed the test with flying colors. 

More from Capitals News

The Capitals entered their game against the Lightning having won their last four regular season games against the Lightning dating back to December 9th, 2014. They had enjoyed a lot of success during those four games, having won three of those four games by two goals a piece. They were thrown a curveball on Friday. The Caps found themselves in an unfamiliar place in the second period when the Lightning took a 3-0 lead.

The Washington Capitals had only trailed by three or more in the second period in two previous games this season (against the Sharks and against the Rangers in early November). They had trailed by three for a total of 65.2 minutes all season. Their star goaltender Braden Holtby had just been pulled. Most teams would have folded. Not the Caps. The Washington Capitals came storming back and scored the game’s next five goals. The fans barely had the time necessary to collect themselves from Alex Ovechkin‘s game-tying power play goal before forward Marcus Johansson put them up for good. They played with a level of confidence that suggested that they knew they could come back. And they did. 

“When it comes down to winning,” Barry Trotz said, via the Washington Post, “we’re learning that it’s important to win and doing it different ways and following the game plan and not just say, ‘Okay, we’re going to stick to what we were doing.’ There’s a good group of guys that understand that, and they’re leading the way.”

The Caps would once again be tested on Sunday. Playing in a hostile environment against a Rangers team that came out with a ton of energy, the Washington Capitals found themselves in a 3-1 hole after the first period. Trotz was tempted to pull Holtby just like he did on Friday. He stuck with him. Holtby and the rest of the team thanked Trotz for his faith in them by scoring the next six goals in a 7-3 win.

More from Stars and Sticks

Justin Williams, who had two goals during the statement victory, said that the Caps were not in panic mode at all after the first period.

“We’re obviously not going to score seven every night but we have the ability to come back on anybody,” winger Justin Williams said, via the LA Times. “We’re not scared of anybody. We feel we’re one of the better teams in the league and we’re going to try to prove it throughout the year.”

The Washington Capitals proved that they have the ability to come back in those two games. But the Caps test wasn’t done. They still had to beat a scrappy Carolina Hurricanes team on Monday evening. The Caps, exhausted during their third game in four nights, jumped out to a two-goal lead at the end of the second period. That’s when the Washington Capitals gas tank went empty. The effort was there as the Caps survived a barrage of shots from the Hurricanes. But the energy just wasn’t. The Caps were able to hang on thanks to some superhuman efforts from Philipp Grubauer and Matt Niskanen. Niskanen blocked two shots in the waning seconds to ice the 2-1 victory.

What happened after the game might be the lasting image of this season for the Capitals.

Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of the traditional celebration of the team lining up individually to celebrate with the winning goaltender, the Caps congregated as a team on the ice and engaged in a group hug. They went through a lot together in the past four days. They learned more about each other during the four days of tribulation.

Next: 30 Best Players In Franchise History

The past four days for them had been trying for the Caps. By leaning on each other as one cohesive unit, the Washington Capitals stared adversity right in the eye and laughed in its face as they passed it.