Despite once holding a 3-0 series lead and even a 2-0 lead...
Long Trip Ahead for Caps
“Yup,” Karl Alzner said to the crowd of journalists as he speed walked to the Capitals locker room. “Make sure you write about Backy.”
The second part of that quote referred to Nicklas Backstrom letting the empty-netter slide in the net without his assistance, allowing Troy Brouwer to have his second goal of the evening.
The first was his answer when he was asked if they were leaving for California right now.
That’s the life of an NHL player. You are allowed to celebrate your 4-2 victory for only a couple of minutes, before you have a five and a half hour flight to Anaheim to face off against the Ducks. The Caps have three straight games in the golden state, playing the Ducks first, who they lost to earlier in the year at home 3-2, the Los Angeles Kings, who they have yet to play, and the San Jose Sharks, who they lost to earlier this season in a shootout.
The Capitals have strung together two wins in a row as they fight for a playoff position. The three teams they face in California are all in playoff position. In fact, they are the top three teams in the Pacific Division, arguably the best division in the NHL. In order for the Caps to jump ahead in the standings, they must grab some away wins. And this little California series is a great place to start.
“We want to be above .500, absolutely,” Brouwer said. “If we want to continue to make a push for the playoffs, we have to continue to get the majority of points in little mini series’, and in this road trip coming up here, there’s six points at stake and we need at least four of them to continue to try to be in the playoff picture.”
“Realistically, if you would have asked me a couple of months ago, I probably would have said get one win,” Alzner said. “Realistically for us now, it’s at least two. I think we can maybe afford to lose one, but we obviously don’t want to. And so, we’re going to go out there and try to upset a couple of teams.”
And while the Caps have been able to string together a couple of wins, they will head to California without a couple of key pieces. According to Head Coach Adam Oates, both Mikhail Grabovski and Brooks Laich will not make the trip. Laich will instead head to St. Louis, where he will meet with Dr. Michael Brunt and evaluate his groin injury. If a procedure is done, Laich will likely be out for the rest of the regular season. But, the news didn’t seem to effect the Caps confidence too much, especially John Carlson’s when he was asked about the realistic expectations for the road trip.
“Win every game.”