After thoroughly dominating their competition through the first four months of the season, the Washington Capitals have seen their level of play dip as of late. That hasn’t done much to affect their record, however.
The first period has generally been cringeworthy for the Capitals recently. They have demonstrated an incredible ability to come back in games, but that will only get you so far when the playoffs roll around.
Their first road test will be against the Boston Bruins tonight. The Bruins have been generally really bad at home this year, so it will be a great opportunity for Washington to gain some momentum before heading out west.
When they travel to Anaheim on Monday it will be the beginning of a three-game stretch against the top teams in the Pacific Division. The Ducks have won ten games in a row as of Saturday, and currently find themselves tied for first in the division with the Los Angeles Kings. It has been a remarkable if not expected turnaround for a Ducks team that was predicted by many to represent the Western Conference in this year’s Stanley Cup finals.
The Caps will then face another tough test two nights later when they visit the Kings. Washington recently defeated the Kings by a score of 3-1 at home.
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These first two contests on the west coast will be against two teams that are very good at home. Anaheim is 21-8-4 on home ice, and LA is 19-10-1.
The final game of the road trip will take the Washington Capitals to San Jose. Though San Jose is below .500 at home this season, the Caps have notoriously struggled there. The Capitals have won two in a row there after going winless in San Jose for more than two decades. San Jose laid a beating on Washington in the Caps’ second game of the season by a score of 5-0. Washington was missing both Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in that one, but that was an alarming defeat at that point in the season.
If the Washington Capitals continue their lackluster play, it will likely be obvious on this road trip. These are four teams that are in playoff position that will make the Caps pay if they aren’t on top of their game.
While the Capitals’ slow starts are concerning in their own right, it becomes even more worth watching the closer we get to playoff time. In the midst of such a successful season, whoever the Caps play in the postseason will be looking for any reason that they can pull off an upset. The Washington Capitals have to put those hopes down immediately, and it needs to start before April arrives.
Regardless, this will be an important road trip in a lot of ways. Full of measuring stick games, the Washington Capitals need to bring their A-game and find their dominant ways again.