Healing the Wounds of a Losing StreakPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Winning Monday night’s game over the Phoenix Coyotes stopped the bleeding for the Washington Capitals, halting a stretch in which the Caps were 3-7-1 in their previous 11 and 1-5-1 in their previous seven. Now they’ve got to stitch that wound and start it to healing. The hockey equivalent of that is to even out those 3-7-1 and 1-5-1 numbers, which would mean going off on a four-game run or winning five of six or six of eight. Tonight against the Winnipeg Jets, the Caps get their first chance to start bankrolling those wins. Even a short slide can be catastrophic in the standings this early in the season, especially in modern times with the ridiculousness existence of loser points and three-point games. Falling in the standings is much easier than climbing in the standings. The Caps were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings prior to Monday’s game against Phoenix. They’re in eighth place going into tonight’s game against Winnipeg. With 23 points on the season, the Capitals are four points shy of front-running Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re also just four points ahead of Carolina for 14th place in the conference. One consolation for Washington is that they’ve played just 19 games to date, fewer than all of the 14 teams in the east except the New York Rangers (17). Starting tonight, the Caps play three games in four nights, all against foes from the tightly bunched Eastern Conference. Winnipeg put a 4-1 pasting on the Caps in Manitoba last Thursday. Despite the Jets’ mediocrity from their days as the Atlanta Thrashers, they’ve had their way with the Capitals of late. Winnipeg/Atlanta is 5-1-1 in its last seven games against Washington, and it has outscored the Capitals 24-14 during that stretch. Included during that run are a pair of shutouts by Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who has stopped 141 of the last 143 (.986) shots the Capitals have sent in his direction. One of the two goals the Caps have scored on Pavelec during that span should not have counted. Washington winger Jason Chimera was a stride off-side on the play that led to Alexander Semin scoring Washington’s lone goal of the game in Winnipeg last week. Pavelec has tied a career high with a dozen straight starts. He is 4-1 with two shutouts, a 0.65 GAA and a .981 save pct. in his last six outings (five starts) against Washington. In the immediate aftermath of last December’s eight-game skid (0-6-2), Washington stopped the bleeding, stitched the wound and healed it up about as quickly as it could. The Caps went on a 6-0-3 run right after that losing streak, and they’ll be looking to continue work on a similar run here tonight at Verizon Center. When they do, they’ll be facing a goalie who has had their number of late, and a team that has scored 15 goals in its last three games.
As ugly as Friday’s 6-3 home ice loss to the New York Rangers was, the Capitals can finish up a busy week of four games in six nights with a 3-1 mark if they can earn a road win in Buffalo tonight. The Caps have dropped three straight and four of their last five away from Verizon Center, and