Following a fairly dismal start to their 2022-23 campaign, the Washington Capitals have now won five-consecutive games and essentially pulled their season out of the fire. The team has battled more injuries than a M*A*S*H unit during the first 31 games played, all while managing to stay in the discussion for postseason play.
The good news is that injured players should continue to return to the lineup, as we have seen with T.J. Oshie, and most recently with of Dmitry Orlov. Next up are Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom and Martin Fehervary.
Also on the good news front is the Capitals schedule ahead, which features the easiest month of the season (January) and the second easiest month of the season (March) based on strength of opponents.
The following is breakdown of the Capitals schedule by month. Each game has been given a score that corresponds to the opponents overall ranking in the league based on today’s standings. (For example, the Anaheim Ducks, the league’s worst team, gets a 32).
The values for each game are summed for each month and divided by the total games for the month to derive a final monthly score. The lower the score, the harder the month. [Click to enlarge].
October and November were two of the three most difficult months on the Capitals 2022-23 schedule, based on league rankings as of today. Those two months are now in the rear view mirror and the team is still afloat, and some could argue, even beginning to thrive.
As noted, January and March are two of the three easiest months on the Capitals 2022-23 schedule. This sets up well for Brian MacLellan and his assessment of the team heading into the 2023 trade deadline on March 6. If the Capitals aren’t in the thick of things by the end of January, after the easiest month on the schedule, we will most likely see a sell-off at the deadline.
The team has done what it needed to do in the first 31 games of the season. They battled tremendous adversity and remain very much in the playoff hunt with the easier part of their 2022-23 schedule ahead.
By Jon Sorensen