Capitals Weekly: Road Trip, Ovechkin’s Pace & 2nd Line Production

Welcome to Capitals Weekly! In this weekly column, I will take a look at the Washington Capitals’ upcoming games and highlight any potential storylines or matchups to watch, all while giving my predictions on how the Caps will do in that span. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section down below.

I’m not going to lie—I’m pretty proud of the way opening week unfolded. Not just that the Washington Capitals went 2-0-1 in their three-game homestand, but the fact that I predicted last week that they would go 2-0-1 in their three-game homestand!

Related: Capitals Blue Line Looking Strong to Start Season

Overall, I have to give the Capitals an “A” for their grade this past week. After handily beating the New York Rangers to open the 2021-22 season, a game that I predicted Alexander Ovechkin might not play in, the Caps looked like they were going to take an early 2-0 lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, that goal was called back and the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions eventually took the game in overtime. The Capitals bounced back in their third game against last season’s Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche, spoiling Nathan MacKinnon’s season debut, wrapping up opening week with two regulation wins and an overtime loss for five points in the standings. Here’s a look ahead at what the upcoming week has in store for the Capitals:

First Road Trip of the Year

Washington will see its first action away from Capital One Arena in the 2021-22 season, as the Capitals head to New Jersey to face the Devils on Thursday. Following a Saturday matinee at home in D.C. against the Calgary Flames, the Caps will cross the border for the first time since exiting the Toronto bubble when they head to Ottawa to play the Senators on Monday.

Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin #8 and Evgeny Kuznetsov #92 celebrate a goal at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Both the Devils and Senators are undefeated at home on the young season, sharing identical 2-0-0 records while on home ice. Ottawa did lose its only game away from the Canadian Tire Centre, a 3-1 defeat in Toronto to the Maple Leafs, and will host the San Jose Sharks and Rangers prior to the Capitals coming to town. New Jersey, on the other hand, won’t see another opponent prior to the game with Washington after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks and Seattle Kraken to start its season. While both games are very much winnable, either could be the first true test of adversity for the Capitals this season.

Alex Ovechkin Will Be First to Score 10 Goals

You heard it here first: Ovechkin will be the first player to score 10 goals in 2021-22. Before you send a wellness check to my house, hear me out. Ovechkin can easily put up five goals over these next three games, which would put him at nine on the campaign. Anze Kopitar and Tyler Bertuzzi are unlikely to continue on their scoring pace to start the season, and Connor McDavid only has two road games in the next week.

Now we all know that McDavid could pop off and score back-to-back hat tricks in those games against the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights, but with the way Ovechkin has been playing this season, it is just as reasonable to expect him to notch a hat trick as well. If Ovechkin can put together any combination of 3-2-1 goals against the Devils, Flames, and Senators, then he will hit the 10 goal mark faster than any other player.

Mantha-Eller-Sprong Line Will Get Going

Heading into training camp there was a lot of buzz around the second line of Anthony Mantha, Lars Eller, and Daniel Sprong. Most of it was excitement about what the trio would be able to do with a full season of playing together and building chemistry. However, the second line is sitting at a combined three points in three games—far from where expectations were for the group. Look for them to get the juices flowing a little more, as Mantha’s 100th career goal against the Avalanche might just be the thing to get this line running.

I don’t see any reason for the Capitals’ hot start to cool down, therefore I am predicting them to once again go 2-0-1 on the week, with one of the two road games going into overtime. Ovechkin will continue to find another gear and will become the first player to score 10 goals this season, while the Mantha-Eller-Sprong line will finish the week with three goals and five assists.

Agree or disagree with my weekly predictions? Leave your comments and own projections in the comments below!

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