As their four-day respite winds down, the Capitals find themselves on the precipice of a pretty busy part of their schedule, with seven games in the next 11 days – consisting of a five-game home stand sandwiched between road games at Detroit and Toronto. At the conclusion of this stretch, we should have better feel for this years team, as more than a quarter of the season will be in the books.
Tonight’s rematch with Detroit (9-8-1) could be looked at as an important early season test for a team, in many ways still searching for its identity. Lacking any real quality road wins this year, the Caps will look to flip the script on last week’s 1-0 loss to the Red Wings, also at “The Joe”. This game is NBC’s “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game of the week, so puck-drop is 8:00 pm. A quick recap of last weeks meeting with the Red Wings – the Caps gave up one extremely fluky goal:
And got away with one, thanks to some slick work by Braden Holtby.
A Slow Go
The Caps have shown in the past to be a bit sluggish after periods of extended down time, so it will be important for the Caps to come out of the chutes quick, knock off the rust, withstand early first period flurries by the Red Wings, and establish an offensive zone presence. The Caps have given up the first goal in seven straight games, but have rallied in most of the games to negate the early deficits. However, the Caps need to grab control of a game from the start, and start doing so on a regular basis if they are to be considered a serious threat this season.
Muck and Mire
According to Hockey Reference, the Capitals have played the easiest strength of schedule in the NHL. The Combined record of the Caps opponents to date is an underwhelming 113-125-24, a winning percentage of 0.475, so their 11-4-1 start might be somewhat overstated. Having said that, they are winning most of the games they should, and are tied for second with the Islanders, seven points behind the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.