Woe CanadaPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Thursday’s game in Winnipeg marks Washington’s sixth game this season to played on frozen Canadian water. While the Capitals were a splendid 6-1 in the seven games they played north of the border last season, they’re just 1-4 in Canada in 2011-12. That lone victory came in the Caps’ most recent road game, a 5-3 win over the Senators in Ottawa on Dec. 7. Because of Winnipeg’s one-year anomaly placement in the Southeast Division this season, the Capitals will play 11 games in Canada in 2011-12. That’s the most games the Caps will have played north of the border in a single season since 1993-94, when they also played 11 games against clubs from their northern neighbor. Quebec (now Colorado) was still in the Eastern Conference in those days, and every club paid at least one visit to every other city in the league back then, so that total of 11 matches the highest single-season total of games played in Canada in Washington’s franchise history. During the first five seasons of its existence, Washington was ensconced in a haphazardly crafted Norris Division that included Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal and Pittsburgh. When the NHL absorbed the Edmonton, Hartford, Quebec and Winnipeg franchises for the 1979-80 season, the Caps were shifted to a re-jiggered Patrick Division along with Atlanta, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia. In the summer of 1980, the Atlanta Flames were moved to Calgary. But as is the case with this year’s Jets, the league left the former Georgia team in its prior division for a season before transferring it to a more sensible spot in the Smythe Division. Pittsburgh replaced Calgary in the Patrick Division for the 1981-82 season, and New Jersey was added in 1982-83 when it was moved east from its previous incarnation as the Colorado Rockies. Bottom line, the 2011-12 season marks the first time the Caps have had a Canadian team in their division since 1980-81. Given the recently announced realignment plans for 2012-13 and beyond, it may be the last time the Caps have a Canadian club in their division. Beginning next season, Washington will travel to Canada for seven road games a year, playing each of the league’s seven Canadian teams once in their own house.
For the first time in franchise history, the Caps have put together four straight seasons in which they’ve won 20 or more games on the road. Washington has totaled at least 45 road points in each of the last four seasons, hitting its road pinnacle in 2009-10 when it established franchise records