With the recent 5-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings, the Washington Capitals are now on a three-game winning streak and hold a perfect record in the month of February. Now it is the hope of every fan that the streak can extend further, yet again.
So far this season, the Caps have had a couple of successful winning streaks — the most recent one being from Dec. 3 to Jan. 15, lasting nine games. Earlier in the season, Washington managed a five-game streak that spanned from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5, followed by a six-game streak from Dec. 5 to Dec. 16.
Clearly, there are signs that another win streak of five or more games may be in sight. A closer look at the team’s home ice performance and their upcoming opponents will explain just why.
Verizon Center — Home Ice Advantage
Apart from being first in the league and at the peak of their performance, the Capitals have also been noticeably strong on their home turf — the Verizon Center. Currently, the Caps hold a 21-5-1 record at home, the second-best of all teams in the league (only the Pittsburgh Penguins have a better record at 22-3-2).
The last nine games at the Verizon Center ended in wins for Washington with an average of five goals per game. Clearly, the Verizon Center is no paradise for any team playing against the Capitals and it’s where Washington will be playing its next three games. While no game is ever taken for granted, it’s clear that the Caps will have a big edge over their upcoming opponents — two of whom have been struggling so far.
The first of the three opponents the Capitals will be playing against is the Carolina Hurricanes. The ‘Canes are on a three-game winning streak like the Caps and have Sebastian Aho as the league’s first star of the week, but with a 24-20-7 overall record, Carolina has little chance of making a playoff appearance this season.
The ‘Canes’ 7-14-6 record on the road places only behind the New York Islanders’ (6-10-4) — making them the Eastern Conference’s second-least successful team in away game performance. In the two teams’ last encounter at the Verizon Center on Jan. 23, the ‘Canes dropped a crushing 6-1 decision to the Caps. With Washington being a dominant force on home ice all season, it would come as no surprise if they find themselves victorious against Carolina this time around.
Detroit Red Wings
If the Capitals can successfully down the Hurricanes, they could use that momentum to help skewer the Red Wings for their fifth straight win. Much like the Canes, the ‘Wings have also been a struggling team this entire season. Detroit might be the current holder of the longest playoff streak in the four major North American sports with 25 seasons, but the team is currently 22-21-9 and places third-to-last in the Eastern Conference. The Wings did recently pick up two wins to compensate for its five-game skid late last month, but with
Detroit might be the current holder of the longest playoff streak in the four major North American sports with 25 seasons, but the team is currently 22-21-9 and places third-to-last in the Eastern Conference. The Wings did recently pick up two wins to compensate for its five-game skid late last month, but with forward Franz Nielsen and defenseman Niklas Kronwall currently out of the lineup, the struggling Wings stand an even slimmer chance against the powerhouse Capitals.
The only other time that Washington faced Detroit this season was on Nov. 18 at the Joe Louis Arena, where the Caps came out on top 1-0.
The Ducks will be the last team the Capitals host before they head off on their road trip and they will also be the most challenging team. Apart from the fact that Anaheim has a higher standing than Carolina or Detroit, the Ducks haven’t played a game against the Capitals so far this season. Their last encounter was on Apr. 10 — right before the Caps prepared to host the Philadelphia Flyers for the first round of the playoffs. In that contest, Washington fell 2-0.
Still, even if they do end up falling to the Ducks, the Caps stand a good chance of picking up 11 straight wins at home with their upcoming games against the ‘Canes and Red Wings.
I am a Vancouver-based sports journalist currently reporting for The Ubyssey, the campus newspaper of the University of British Columbia. Sports I have covered before include hockey, basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, rugby, field hockey, swimming and track and field.