Boxing Day BluesPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
This is the Capitals’ 36th season in the NHL, and it will be the 25th time – and fifth season in a row – they’ve played a game on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, the day after Christmas. Most of those games have been played on home ice, including each of the last three. The Caps won each of those last three Dec. 26 games at home. They’re 11-10-3 all-time in Dec. 26 games, and they’re 10-6-3 on home ice in such games. Washington’s road record on Dec. 26 is 1-4. The lone win was an 8-2 thumping of the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Dec. 26, 1979. Gary Green was behind the bench for the Caps in those days. Teams can’t travel on Christmas Day, so the standard practice of arriving in a road city the night before a game is out the window. The Caps convened around 8 a.m. this morning at Dulles, flew into snow-covered Raleigh and bused directly to the rink for their morning skate. “It’s obviously a different game,” says Caps defenseman Scott Hannan. “You usually fly in the day before, but you have to get up in the morning, fly in and skate when you get in. You’ve got to find a way to get the legs going, that’s for sure.” Hockey players are creatures of habit, and even little things that throw off their normal routine can be disturbing. That might account for the Caps’ lack of success on the road on this date, but it won’t be used as an excuse regardless of what happens tonight. “We’re professionals,” says Hannan. “There are some games over the season where you’re not going to be 100% and the other team is probably going to be, games where you’re on the road and they’re at home waiting for you. There are going to be some tough games where you’ve got to find that edge mentally. We’ve got to be ready to play and to play the right way. You might not have it in the hands or the legs tonight, but you’ve got to find a way.” A few memorable events have occurred on this date in seasons past. Two years ago, Alex Ovechkin added to his personal catalog of highlight reel goals with a beauty against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center. Three years ago today, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau had the “interim” tag removed from his title. The Cape went on to take down the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 3-2 count in the game that night. Four years ago, a flu-ridden Caps team flew to Buffalo for a date with the Sabres. The game started a rare and rugged stretch of four games in five nights for the Caps, and they dropped all four. Buffalo scored six goals in the game’s first 10:57 that night, the third fastest any team has ever scored six goals in a game in league history and just 24 seconds shy of the record. Just for informational purposes, only one team in the league is playing four games in five nights at any point in the 2010-11 season. That would be the Los Angeles Kings and that stretch starts tonight. Finally, the Caps departed for a game in Detroit on this day in 1996. Washington fell by a 5-4 count in overtime. Red Wings center Sergei Fedorov scored all five goals for his team.
It’s been seven months now since the official announcement of the Capitals’ participation in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Somewhere around three months ago, many of those who’ll be making the pilgrimage to Pittsburgh received their tickets to the event.