Caps 'excited' for longest road trip of season

Caps 'excited' for longest road trip of season
October 21, 2013, 1:00 pm
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Caps top 5 plays of the week: 10.21.13

After five straight games at the Verizon Center, and six of their last seven overall at home, the Capitals leave Monday afternoon for their longest road trip of the season.

It’s a nearly two-week stretch that will take them from Winnipeg to Western Canada, and back through Philly, 12 total days with five games to play. That’s a week of downtime for players to bond and get away from home.

“To be honest you, I’m kind of missing road games,” Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s always nice to play at home, but when there’s too much going on here you just want to go on the road, spend time at the hotel and enjoy it.”

Defenseman Mike Green is also looking forward to getting away. As a veteran of nine NHL seasons, he has seen good things come out of playing away from Washington. Players get to know each other better and teams can return home a more cohesive unit.

“These road trips are important,” he said. “You get a chance to spend time with the guys. Obviously we’re all away from our families when we go on the road. There’s not much room to get away from each other. We definitely gel when we are on the road.”

It helps the Capitals are coming off a convincing 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, a fellow Metropolitan division team. It allows them to leave on a high note and look to sustain the momentum built on Saturday night.

“I think it’s going to help. It will get the team together to build off of the last win,” Martin Erat said.

“It was a long homestand,” Adam Oates said. ” When you win and you get away and you got no one to turn to you stick together a little bit more.”

Oates will be watching closely to see how some of the team’s younger players respond up North where the stadiums are generally packed with high energy crowds. He mentioned Marcus Johansson and Nate Schmidt in particular as they look to build off their performances against the Blue Jackets.

“We’re going into some tough environments so we gotta be playing good hockey,” Oates said.

The Capitals coach did say, however, that in his experience playing on the road can be a good thing for opposing players. When he was in the NHL, he found one particular benefit in being the visitor.

“There’s always a little bit of pressure when you fail early in a game at home, you feel like the fans are ready to get on you,” he said. “On the road mistakes can happen and it’s easier to let them go I think.”

The Caps will begin with Winnipeg on Tuesday, then go to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver before coming East to take on the Flyers on Friday, Nov. 1. It’s their only extended swing through Canada and some are looking forward to not just getting away, but getting far away. 

“It’s not every other day we go out West, so guys are excited,” Green said. “It’s important that we get our wins that we need to get and keep this rolling.”

They’ll know they are in a new place when they step off the plane as the temperature high in Winnipeg later this evening is 35 degrees. Green said he had to buy a new jacket in preparation for the cold. And Erat, who spent the majority of his career in Nashville, is bracing for it.

“First time in Winnipeg. It’s going to be cold,” he said.