When the NHL schedules were originally released back on June 25th, many in Caps Nation gasped at the sight of October’s daunting slate of games. The consensus was that the opening month might be the toughest test of the 2019-2020 season for Washington. They started with yet another season opener on the road for a banner-raising, had games scheduled against many of the leagues best, and has a season-long five-game, 10-day road trip to close out the month. Some might have been happy with a .500 record by the time Halloween rolled around. As it turns out, the Capitals would march convincingly through the month of October, leaving an impressive string of smoldering craters in their collective rear view mirror.
With their 4-3 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs Tuesday night in Toronto, the Capitals end the month of October with a record of 9-2-3, which ties the franchise record for wins in the month of October and set a new franchise record for points for the month of October.
With a win tonight, the Capitals improve to 9-2-3 and have won nine games in October, tying a franchise record set in 1991-92 and set a new franchise high with 21 points in a single October (previous record: 19 points, 2009-10).
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 30, 2019
It wasn’t as if all the stars aligned for the month to unfold the way it did. Kuznetsov was suspended. Michal Kempny was slow to enter the starting lineup, leaving the defensive pairings somewhat askew for the first few weeks. In addition, salary cap issues mandated that roster moves be made in order to attain compliance, moves that might not have been otherwise made.
Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan told the Athletic, “Right off the hop we dealt with (Evgeny) Kuznetsov’s suspension, the (Michal) Kempny injury, when he’s coming back and when he’s not coming back, so we got through a couple of key things right away. We’ve had a tough schedule in October, a lot of road games (nine of 14 away from home), a lot of games. So I think going into it there were a lot of concerns that if we can get through this, we should be sitting pretty good. I think we’re pretty pleased with the things we’ve gotten through and the way we’ve played. We’ve tried to add a couple of things system-wise that make us more aggressive and make us play at a faster pace. We’ve probably been a little inconsistent in that, but overall it’s been good.”
As for the games, the Capitals blew three third period leads in the month of October, but always seemed to brush off any adversity they faced and respond with an impressive game the next time out. They have just a +8 goal differential, but we’re still able to amass a 9-2-3 record for the month.
The Capitals posted a pedestrian 2-1-2 record at home in October, which might typically foreshadow doom and gloom, but the team would respond by turning in the leagues best road record so far this season (7-1-1), which also set a franchise record.
With just 17 percent of the season in the books, there is still plenty of work that remains. But with the October the Capitals just turned in, it’s hard to complain about much, if anything, with regards to this team.
Washington road warriors: (October road records):
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) October 30, 2019
By Jon Sorensen