Photo: Brandon Magnus/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals return home from a perfect four-game road trip, something which they did only once in franchise history previously (1992-93), to host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington). While winning all games on a lengthy road trip is a rare accomplishment for most teams, it has been nothing new for the Capitals this season as their 14-2-1 road record is the best in the NHL despite having a road-heavy schedule. The next best team away from home is the Arizona Coyotes (11-4-3). NoVa Caps takes a closer look at the Capitals’ road success.
Since falling 6-5 to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on October 10, the Capitals have recorded a point in 13 of 14 road games (12-1-1). In the one game they lost in regulation since (November 20 at the New York Rangers), the Capitals were without center Nicklas Backstrom (lower-body injury), forward Carl Hagelin (lower-body injury), center Nic Dowd (hand injury), and forward Garnet Hathaway (suspension).
The Capitals have been better on special teams on the road rather than at home as their 27.5% power-play efficiency on the road is third in the NHL while their 20.9% power-play rate at home is 16th. There is not a big difference in terms of penalty-killing as they are only .2% better at home than away from Capital One Arena.
The Capitals have played 17 of their 31 games on the road (54%), and their goal-scoring statistics largely mirror that percentage. Washington has scored 62 of their 112 goals (55%) this season on the road, though they have also allowed 47 of their 86 goals-against (55%). They have scored at least three goals in 13 road games, including each of the four matches on their recent road trip.
There hasn’t been a huge difference in shots on goal between the Capitals and the opponent as the Capitals have outshot teams 525-520 on the road this season. The difference is even smaller at home as the Capitals have outshot the opposition 445-442 at home. The Capitals take almost one shot more but also allow one more at home compared to on the road.
The Capitals were able to sweep their trip to California last week, something which has only done five times in the NHL since the 2016-17 season and was accomplished for the first time this season. Since the Anaheim Ducks joined the league in 1993-94, a team has swept the California trip only 21 times.
The Capitals currently have a remarkable .853 points percentage away from Capital One Arena, earning 29 of a possible 34 points. In the previous four seasons, they finished with road point-percentages of .707 in 2015-16, .634 in 2016-17, .573 in 2017-18, and .609 last season.
For some Capitals, the road has been particularly friendly this year: captain Alex Ovechkin has scored 15 of his 20 goals and 20 of his 31 points on the road, while defenseman John Carlson has earned nine of his 11 goals and 27 of his 43 points and forward Tom Wilson has notched eight of his 10 goals away from home.
The Capitals road success was evident during their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff run when they hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history. The Capitals were 10-3 on the road, clinching each of their four series on the road. That success has been equally impressive this season. While teams usually sport a better record at home, the Capitals have proven to be comfortable on the road as well, earning them the title of NHL Road Warriors.
By Harrison Brown