The Washington Capitals headed into the All-Star Break on a season-high seven-game losing streak (0-5-2), which is also their longest since the 2013-14 season, when they also lost seven in a row and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by three points that season… not that we’re suggesting that will happen this season. During the streak, the Capitals have been outscored by a combined total of 36-18. As the team tries to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, NoVa Caps takes a look at the past five repeat champions’ longest losing streaks of the season the year that they repeated.
2017 Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins lost four consecutive games (0-2-2) in late March just as the Stanley Cup Playoffs were approaching, getting outscored by a combined score of 17-7 by the Ottawa Senators, who they would face in the Eastern Conference Final and beat in double overtime of Game 7 that Spring, the New York Islanders, who missed the playoffs by a point that season, (both in a shootout) before falling to the Philadelphia Flyers, who missed the playoffs by seven points that season, and Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Western Conference with 109 points in 2016-17, by a combined score of 11-3. The team had played 24 postseason games in the Spring of 2016 and finished second in the Metropolitan Division and league with 111 points the next season.
1998 Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings lost three consecutive games twice in the final 20 games of the season but were able to finish second in the Central Division with 103 points. They were outscored 13-8 by the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and Boston Bruins the first time they went through a three-game skid and 9-5 by the Pheonix Coyotes, who finished fourth in their division and were 21 points behind the Red Wings in the regular season, Dallas Stars, who led the Red Wings by six points in their division, and Colorado Avalanche, who led their division and finished fourth in the Western Conference with 95 points, the second time, which was also the final three games of the regular season. However, they only needed 20 games to capture the Stanley Cup that Spring, the equivalent of how many games it took to win the previous season.
The Penguins lost four consecutive games in regulation after hitting the 50-game mark of the season. During the skid, they fell to the New York Rangers, the best team in the league with 105 points that year, Kings, who finished fourth in the Western Conference with 84 points that season, Bruins, who also finished fourth in the Eastern Conference with 84 points that year, and Minnesota North Stars, who they saw in the Cup Final the previous season and finished fourth in the Norris Division with only 70 points that season. They were outscored by a combined total of 19-11 in those games, which came in early-to-mid February that season after playing 24 games the previous postseason. After finishing third in the Patrick Division with 87 points that season, they needed 21 games to win the Stanley Cup. After going 5-5 in the first 10 postseason games, the Penguins rattled off 11 consecutive wins to clinch the Stanley Cup.
1988 Edmonton Oilers
At the beginning of the season, the Oilers lost a season-high of three consecutive games by a combined score of 14-6, including 8-1 in the first two games of the losing streak to the Quebec Nordiques, who’s 32 wins were the fewest in the Eastern Conference that season, and the Montreal Canadiens, who’s 45 wins were second in the NHL only behind the Calgary Flames’ 48 that year, after playing 21 games in the playoffs the previous Spring. They also lost 6-5 to the New Jersey Devils, who finished fourth in the Patrick Division with a record of 38-36 that season. After finishing the season with 99 points (second in the Smythe Division that season), they went 16-3 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and won five and eight consecutive games, respectively, during the playoff run.
The Oilers lost three consecutive games twice the season after playing 19 games to win the Stanley Cup the previous Spring. They were outscored by a combined total of 17-9 to the Philadelphia Flyers, who led the NHL with 113 points that season, Canadiens, who led the Adams Division with 94 points in the regular season, and Flames, who finished third in their division with 94 points (15 back of the Oilers), in mid-November, the first time they went through a three-game winless spell. They were outscored by a combined total of 15-8 in losses to the Canadiens, Kings, who finished fourth in their division with 84 points in the regular campaign, and Winnipeg Jets the second time they went through a lengthy skid. They also earned a tie with the Capitals before losing three consecutive games at the end of February and beginning of March that season. After finishing first in the Smythe Division with 109 points, the team won nine straight to start the playoffs and four straight to end. Overall, it required the Oilers only 18 games that season to capture the Cup.
While the Capitals have lost more games than any of these teams that were able to repeat, there are plenty of reasons to still be optimistic about the team’s chances of capturing back-to-back Stanley Cups as they have 18 of the 20 players who geared up for the team’s Cup-clinching win in Game 5 at the Vegas Golden Knights last June. The Capitals will need to turn it around after they return from their bye week but every team goes through slumps during an 82-game season. All we know is that they need to buckle down and get into the playoffs. Once they get there, anything can happen.
By Harrison Brown