Through 12 games and the month of October, the Capitals sit at a 5-6-1 record. They are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference wild card and sixth in the metropolitan division, though they are only two points out of the second wild-card spot and four out of the last division spot.
Despite the fact that they are off to their slowest start in years, it is important to note that the Capitals have played eight of their first 12 games on the road. Three of the four teams they played at home came against playoff teams from last year. The Capitals went 1-3-0 in those games.
After finishing last year with a franchise record 32-7-2 record at home, the Capitals have not been strong at home lately dating back to the postseason last May when they went 3-4 at home. Three of those four loses came in the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, including dropping the first two games at home and Game 7. They have gone 4-7 since the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs began.
After finishing their stretch in which they have played 8 out of 12 on the road, the Capitals play 15 of their next 22 games at home. That stretch includes a 4-game homestand from November 18 to November 24 and a season-long 5-game homestand from November 30 to December 9. They play nine out of 10 games at home during that stretch with the lone away game taking place on Saturday, November 25 at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This stretch of games will be anything but easy. The Capitals play teams such as the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on November 10, the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on November 24, Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Kings on November 30, the defending Central Division champion Chicago Blackhawks on December 6, and tilts with Metropolitan Division Foes like the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 2, and the New York Rangers on December 8 highlight the as the toughest opponents the Capitals will face at home in the next five weeks.
The Capitals will play their first set of back to back home games of the 2017-18 season on November 10 against the Penguins and November 12 against the Edmonton Oilers.
This stretch will be especially important for the Capitals when they look back on it later on. When it comes to late March and early April, the Capitals will most likely be battling with teams like the ones mentioned above for key points. If they go less than .600 on this stretch of games and miss a division or even wild card spot at the end of the season, it will be a huge missed opportunity even if it is the difference from a third division spot and the first wild-card spot.
The Capitals have been better on the road since the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs started and it has carried into this season, but the Capitals will need to get back to dominating on home ice for success. With the amount of talent this team has, this should be expected but it is up to them to take advantage of this huge opportunity.
The Capitals begin this stretch of games on Thursday night against the New York Islanders, who are currently third in the division with a 7-4-1 record and coming off a 6-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. This will be a big one at Capital One Arena. It will be televised on NBC Sports Washington at 7 P.M.
By Harrison Brown