Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
The Capitals’ regular season in and of itself was an unequivocal success in its own right, but the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Final has far exceeded the expectations heading into the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. While there have been a number of key factors involved in their spring success, their play on the road has arguably been the most crucial.
In 14 games played thus far in the playoffs, the Capitals have a road record of 7-1, which includes winning the first two games of the Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning by a combined score of 10-4, easily dominating the Bolts in almost every aspect of the game. While the Caps’ performances in their most recent two road games is impressive, it is nothing new to the team this spring.
#ALLCAPS are 14-2 in their last 16 road games, dating back to the regular season (3/10)
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) May 14, 2018
In their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals lost the first two games of the series at Capital One Arena, before winning the next two in Columbus, and winning the sixth game to take the series in six games; in total, the Capitals won three of the necessary four games to advance while on the road, outscoring the Blue Jackets 13-6. The team continued its strong road performance in their second round matchup against the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, winning two of three road games en route to securing the series. In those three games the Caps and Penguins each scored a combined seven goals. Special teams (specifically the power play) has also played a huge part in the Caps’ tremendous road record during the postseason, as in a combined 25 power play opportunities on the road, the Caps have scored eight goals for a conversion rate of 32% (in simpler terms, the team has scored on 32% of their power play opportunities on the road).
The 1997-98 Capitals team that made an equally impressive run to the Stanley Cup Final finished their entire postseason with a 7-1 road record, putting into perspective just how spectacular this season’s team’s performance has been. If the Caps can continue playing like they have on the road in Games 3 & 4, the team has a shot at sweeping the Bolts and advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 seasons.
By Michael Fleetwood