The past week has been a fairly quiet one for the Washington Capitals, but with the first game of the road trip on the horizon, it’s time to get back in the full swing of things.
With their most recent 6-4 win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Capitals are now on a six-game winning streak and remain perfect in February. The Caps hold a 39-11-6 record and have successfully preserved their first-place spot in the league with 84 points — which brings them another step closer to what could be a third Presidents’ Trophy. February has been a strong month for the Capitals thus far and with less than two months remaining in the regular season, the team will be looking to keep the fire going until the end of the season.
Tom Gilbert — Newest Team Member
— Tom Gilbert (@tomgilbert77) February 15, 2017
With the NHL trade deadline right around the corner, news and rumors of trades have been dominating headlines across the league. For the Caps, their latest addition was defenseman Tom Gilbert.
On Feb 15, Gilbert became the newest player to join the Washington Capitals. The Caps acquired the 34-year-old defenseman from the L.A. Kings in exchange for a conditional fifth-round draft for later this year. Gilbert now plays for the Hershey Bears — the Caps’ AHL affiliate team. With five goals in 18 games with the Kings and one assist in five games with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, Gilbert’s addition should help bolster the struggling Bears — who are fifth in the Atlantic Division and have allowed an average of 3.11 goals per game this season.
Visiting Detroit — Strong vs. Weak
For its next match up, Washington will be heading to Hockeytown to face the Detroit Red Wings. By the look of things, the Capitals have the upper hand.
The Caps’ next game will be a chance for their 40th win of the season and little will probably get in the way for Washington —it will match the first and last-placed teams in the Eastern Conference. Apart from being last in the East, the Red Wings are also coming off of a four-game losing streak, where one of those losses was a 6-3 defeat to Washington.
Verizon Center is where the Caps have been dominant all season — their latest win was their 11th consecutive win at home. Although the next game will be an away game, it’s unlikely that it’ll be an obstacle for Washington. With a 15-6-5 away record, the Caps’ road game is one that few other teams in the league can match. By comparison, the Wings’ 11-13-5 home record is the worst in the Eastern Conference and second worst in the league.
Washington also has an advantage in that the team is coming off of its bye week — which means the Caps should be more rested than their opponent.
Sanford and Vrana to Stay
With third-line right winger Andre Burakovsky sidelined for at least a month, Zach Sanford and Jakub Vrana — both of whom the Caps recalled from the Hershey Bears — will remain with the Capitals for the time being. Even with Burakovsky out of the lineup, the Caps haven’t shown signs of slowing down.
During the last game, Sanford picked up his first NHL goal to break a 4-4 tie. As long as he stays on the team, he will continue to produce points for the offensively dominant Capitals alongside Brett Connolly and Lars Eller.
With a little under two months left to go, all that the Caps need to do is keep the fire going until the end of the season.
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.