The Washington Capitals will begin their first road trip next week win-less away from Capital One Arena to this point in the 2018-2019 season.
Both road losses this season were on the second night of back-to-backs, including an overtime loss to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals also had the misfortune of being the guests for the Penguins’ and New Jersey Devils’ home opener; the Caps won 7-0 in their home opener on banner night against the Boston Bruins.
While the NHL schedule-makers did the defending champs no favors in the first month of the season; that is no excuse for a team that tied the NHL record for most road postseason wins last spring.
The Caps lost their two road games by a combined score of 13-6; one of those being a 6-0 shutout. Do the math and the defense, or lack thereof, is what stands out. New head coach Todd Reirden is known for his defensive background which is what makes the early road struggles sort of a surprise.
Inside of Capital One Arena, Washington is 3-1 entering tonight’s contest; in which they host the win-less Florida Panthers. The only home loss came to early MVP caniadate Auston Matthews and the high-powered offense of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In that loss the Capitals played possibly their worst 20 minutes of the season in the 3rd period, giving up the game tying goal, and later game-winning goal in the final frame after controlling the first 40 minutes of action. The Toronto loss also marks the only time goaltender Braden Holtby has given up more than one goal in a period at home this season.
The upcoming road trip will consist of four games in a 13 day period; all in Canada with no back-to-backs. The biggest challenge of the trip to Canada may come next Thursday against young superstar Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Entering Friday night, McDavid leads his squad in points, goals, and assists.
Going undefeated on this trip is not out of the question for the Capitals but it will require focus, discipline, and the defensive prowess that Washington exhibited during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.