The Capitals had a tough week last week as they began their tour of the Pacific Division on Wednesday with the Anaheim Ducks. The Capitals went 1-2-0 versus the top three teams in the Pacific Division, playing three road games in four nights.
The Caps started their road swing with a 6-2 victory over Anaheim, but the win had a steep price as the Caps lost star defensemen Mike Green to a back injury late in the first period.
The Caps may have won the game, but they were beat up by the Ducks who lead all of their body checks with their elbows. Green’s injury may have come from a clean hit, that knocked him off his feet and sent him flying butt-first into the boards, but the Ducks certainly took their fair share of cheap shots including a spear to the groin for Alex Ovechkin.
Washington, battered and bruised, had to face off against the Los Angeles Kings the very next night. Unlike Washington, Los Angeles had been off for the past three days and were playing at home, which presented obvious advantages. Even with Washington being battered, bruised and obviously tired, the game was much closer than the 5-2 score would lead you to believe as the Kings’ final two goals came on the empty net.
Jose Theodore was given the night off in favor of Brent Johnson, and the Caps were able to welcome Shaone Morrison back to the line-up after his injury, but it just wasn’t enough to stop the well rested Kings.
The Caps didn’t get much time off as they had one day to practice (while still on the road) and had to turn right back around and face the division leading San Jose Sharks.
San Jose, much like LA, had been given four days off preceding their home game versus the Capitals. Unlike the game versus LA, this game was not even close. The Caps thought they were going into this game with a healthy Sergei Federov, but after about four and a half minutes of ice time, in the first period, Federov did not return to the bench for the rest of the game.
To give you an idea as to how tired the Capitals really were, the Sharks second goal of the game came from Shaone Morrison when he tried to go forehand to backhand while still in the crease and inadvertently knocked the puck in behind Brent Johnson.
It was very difficult not to begin to think that the schedule makers didn’t have it out for the Caps this past week. I began to search the Caps upcoming schedule to see when they would be playing the New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies (assuming that it would be within the next couple of days, and most likely on the road).
The Capitals game tonight versus the Minnesota Wild will be their fifth straight road game. The Caps will have played four of those games within the past six days.
Tonight’s game will be the end of their road stretch as they will be back home Tuesday to get ready for the Thrashers Wednesday night. The Capitals past two losses have allowed Carolina to close within one point of tying the Caps for the South East division lead. Carolina has played one more game than Washington has so far this season and face off versus the 7-11-1 Florida Panthers tonight.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the Capitals will be facing the 11-6-1 Wild.
If there is any upside it’s that the Caps have not lost more than two games in regulation under Coach Bruce Boudreau, who marked his one-year anniversary as the Capitals Head Coach this past Saturday. Can the Caps keep that streak alive?