Washington Capitals Rolling Through December


For the first two months of the season, the Washington Capitals failed to put together an impressive streak. The Caps would regularly win two or three games before losing consecutive games.

But, since losing to Vancouver, 4-3, on Dec. 02, head coach Barry Trotz has coached his team to their best stretch this season.

More from All Over The Hill

Earlier in the month, I wrote that December presented a tough task for the Capitals because they played nine of their 13 games during the month on the road.

Well, they’ve answered the call by earning points in their last nine games, which includes seven wins.

The Capitals now sit in sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division with 40 points, two ahead of the New York Rangers, the Capitals opponent on Tuesday night.

Earning these 16 points has been crucial for Washington, as other teams in the division have been rolling as well.

The Rangers have won six straight games, while the New York Islanders have won four straight and seven of their last 10. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit atop the division, have earned 15 points over their last 10 games with a 6-1-3 record.

Dec 16, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) makes a save against the Florida Panthers in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

And it’s been some of the more consistent names over the past few seasons that have helped Washington over the past month.

Braden Holtby has started every game since Nov. 15, when Justin Peters got the nod from Trotz and allowed four goals to St. Louis. He’s allowed more than two goals just twice over the last nine games and has posted save percentages of at least .970 five times during the streak (@ Carolina, @ New Jersey x2, @ Florida, vs. Ottawa).

Alex Ovechkin scored two of the team’s five goals in a win at Tampa Bay and now has 27 points on the season (15 goals, 12 assists).

And maybe most impressive has been the play of Nicklas Backstrom. He had a hat trick in the 4-2 home win over Tampa on Dec. 13, and accounted for all four goals in Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Devils (two goals, two assists).

Backstrom is now fifth in the NHL in assists with 25 and eights in points with 36.

The Washington Capitals will remain on the road over the next three games, starting tonight against the Rangers before traveling to Pittsburgh and then Long Island to play the Islanders. Then the Caps will host the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.

Earning points in their next four games will go a long way for the Capitals, especially since the next three are against divisional opponents.

Trotz has recalled Andre Burakovsky from Hershey for this stretch and appears to have his team moving in the right direction.

The puck will drop tonight at 7 p.m. against the Rangers from Madison Square Garden.

Next: Lack of Minutes Concerning for Marcin Gortat