Caps Seek Repeat of 2nd Half Road ShowPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
With just seven wins in their first 20 road games (7-12-1), the Caps are off to their worst start on the road in the season’s first half since 2005-06 when they won road game Nos. 19 (in Anaheim) and 20 (in Phoenix) to forge a 6-13-1 mark in their first 20 games away from Verizon Center. Fortunately, with just one exception, the Caps have been a much better road team in the second half of every season since the lockout. Washington has owned a lead just twice after 20 minutes of play on the road this season. The last time the Caps led after the first frame on the road was more than two months ago (Nov. 5 vs. New York Islanders). The Capitals took a 2-0 lead to the room after 20 but went on to lose that game, 5-3. The last time – and only time this season – the Caps led after one period and went on to win was on Oct. 20 at Philadelphia. Washington turned a 2-1 lead after one into a 5-2 win that night, the sixth of its seven straight wins to open the 2011-12 season. Getting a lead and maintaining it is a luxury the Caps have rarely known on the road this season, especially since Dale Hunter took over behind the bench on Nov. 28. The Caps are 3-5-1 on the road under Hunter, but two of those wins (Dec. 7 in Ottawa and Dec. 31 in Columbus) were the result of third-period comebacks from early deficits and the third came when Washington scored the game’s only goal in the 59th minute of play on Dec. 15 to take a 1-0 win in Winnipeg. Of the 545 minutes of road hockey the Capitals have played under Hunter, they’ve owned the lead for 40 minutes and 46 seconds. All that said, the Caps have a history of strong second-half performance and strong second-half performance on the road. Since the lockout, the Capitals have had a better second half than first half every season except for 2006-07, when they sputtered to a 3-15-3 mark in their last 21 on the road after posting an 8-8-4 log in their first 20 road contests. Caps first/second halves on road since lockout 2005-06: 1st half: 6-13-1 (13 points in 20 games) 2nd half: 7-10-4 (18 points in 21 games) 2006-07: 1st half: 8-8-4 (20 points in 20 games) 2nd half: 3-15-3 (nine points in 21 games) 2007-08: 1st half: 7-9-4 (18 points in 20 games) 2nd half: 13-7-1 (27 points in 21 games) 2008-09: 1st half: 8-10-2 (18 points in 20 games) 2nd half: 13-5-3 (29 points in 21 games) 2009-10: 1st half: 11-6-3 (25 points in 20 games) 2nd half: 13-4-4 (30 points in 21 games) 2010-11: 1st half: 9-9-2 (20 points in 20 games) 2nd half: 14-6-1 (29 points in 21 games) 2011-12: 1st half: 7-12-1 (15 points in 20 games) 2nd half: TBD In each of the last four seasons, Washington has earned at least 13 road wins and 27 road points over the final 21 road games of the season. If the Caps are somehow able to repeat that performance over the second half of the 2011-12 season, it will go a long way toward cementing a fifth straight Stanley Cup playoff berth. The second half of the road season starts here in Montreal tonight.
Wednesday night in Montreal, Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves to record the sixth shutout of his NHL career in a 3-0 win over the Canadiens. What’s most impressive about that outing is the fact that Neuvirth was making his first start in a span of 23 days, since allowing three first-period