Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
It’s rare that hockey teams in the NHL have several days off between games. Usually it’s only one or two days, maybe three, but anything longer than that is rare. For the Capitals, they just came off a four-day break. That sounds like a good thing in terms of rest and healing, but it also can cause some rust that’s hard to recover from.
The Capitals had a four-day break earlier in the season. They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 25th then didn’t play again until November 30th and subsequently lost to the Los Angeles Kings 2-5.
So for the second time this season the Capitals went four days without a game. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes on January 2nd and just played the St. Louis Blues on the 7th.
The starts are always rough after breaks so how did they do? “I liked our first.” Barry Trotz said after the game, “We really didn’t give up much. We managed it. We played a simple game.”
That doesn’t mean the Capitals played a perfect game. “There’s obviously a little bit of rust.” Braden Holtby stated, “It’s not really an excuse. It’s something we wanted to get better at, to be playing on a few days rest.” Brett Connolly used the same words, “A little rusty. 4 days is a lot of time between games.”
It’s interesting that both Connolly and Holtby used the words “rust” because Lars Eller didn’t agree. “I don’t think we looked that rusty to be honest with you.” He said, “I think it was good. We had some starts the last couple weeks that weren’t great, so that could have been an issue, but I think we started pretty decent and got the first goal.”
But then the 2nd period happened and the Caps seemed to have forgotten how to play hockey. “Seems like we ran out of gas in the 2nd.” Connolly admitted. The St. Louis Blues scored two goals in the frame and generally owned the Caps. The Blues took a 2-1 lead into the 3rd, a period that the Capitals began to find their way. They scored 2 goals before Allowing a flukey goal, but won it in overtime with a Nicklas Backstrom snipe 4-3.
The Capitals definitely had some help considering St. Louis played just yesterday, but for the most part the boys in red didn’t look like they let the four-day break get to them. Which is important, because they have a mandatory five-game break at the end of January, so they’ll need to fight that rust once more. By the end, Holtby summed it up best, “In some ways we did better and others we didn’t, but the important thing is we win.” Winning, it’s all about winning.
By Luke Adomanis