For Caps, it’s time to get away


The Capitals are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Having recently wrapped up a five-game homestand — the longest of their season — with a 2-3-0 record, the Capitals now embark on a five-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Winnipeg.

Tuesday’s game against the Jets will be Washington’s first away from Verizon Center since a 2-1 loss to Dallas on Oct. 5.

The five-game road trip is the Capitals’ longest of the season (they’ll leave on another five-game trip in January).

While attention is routinely paid to the benefits of playing within friendly confines, spending time elsewhere also has its advantages.

In the Capitals’ case, it will allow them to build off of Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Blue Jackets — their most complete 60-minute

performance of the season — without the pressure that comes from playing in front of an expectant home crowd.

“One of the things is there’s always a little pressure,” coach Adam Oates said. “When you fail early in a game at home, you feel the fans are ready to get on you, where on the road, mistakes can happen and it’s easier to let them go.”

Added defenseman Steve Oleksy: “At home, sometimes you feel forced like you’ve got to do a little more to get the crowd into it, get them excited. I think [going on the road] allows us to keep our game a little simpler.”

Both Oates and his players mentioned after Saturday’s win that there is still work to be done, particularly when it comes to cleaning up play in their own end.

“We finally played for 60 minutes and played much more defense,” left wing Martin Erat said. “A little bit cleaner in our defensive zone, but there’s a lot of stuff to work on and we have to just build.”

Of course, road trips are also important for team-building and bonding as players have little else to distract them from the games.

“You get a chance to spend time with the guys,” defenseman Mike Green said. “There’s not much room to get away from each other, so we definitely kind of gel when we’re on the road. … It’s important that we get our wins that we need to get to keep this thing rolling.”

Adam Vingan is an NHL.com Washington correspondent, the Capitals beat reporter for Express, and writes Capital Games for NBC Washington.

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Rick Snider · October 21, 2013