As far as the Washington Capitals are concerned, the best thing about their current three-game trip is that it's almost over.
The Capitals lost the first two games, and as they move on to Detroit for a Sunday contest, they have yet to play up to the standards set in some of their games over the last month. Their current winless streak on the road is 11 games (0-8-3).
Coach Tom McVie was so incensed over the 6-0 beating his team suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night that he left the Forum immediately after the game, not even pausing to blast his players.
McVie had expected better results from the Capitals based on some good work outs prior to the trip's first game. But it seems as if they have left their best efforts on the practice ice.
They were never competitive against the Kings, who received fine performances from No. 2 NHL scorer Marcel Dionne (goal and assist), defenseman Gary Sargent (two goals) and goalie Rogie Vachon (eighth shutout, best in the league). Los Angeles led, 5-0, midway through the second period and the Capitals were faced with impossible mission.
In the third period, Washington had only three shots on Vachon, and had a total of only 14 for the game. And that was after a strong although wild, shooting assault on Vancouver Wednesday night.
Vachon, who has allowed only six goals in his five games, probably hasn't had an easier shutout all season. The Caps had only one shot in the first 15 minutes of the third period, and not until Hartland Monahan broke in alone did Vachon have to make a tough save. Monahan's wicked slap shot caught Vachon in the groin and floored him. But he scrambled up and completed the period.
The caps got only one shot from their defense (Gord Lane in the first period, and were hobbled further by Yvon Labre's absence because of an ankle injury. McVie had only five defensemen, a tough situation when the other team is skating well, as the Kings were.
Most of Los Angeles' 35 shots tested goalie Bernice Wolfe's fine reflexes. By the third period, he was probably wondering if he was ever going to make a routine save.
Dionne was especially pesky. He had six shots in the first period, including two breakaways. He finally scored on the sixth attempt after winning a faceoff from Guy Charron to the left of Wolfe and beating the Washington goalie with a quick wrist shot.
McViw most likely will give both Wolfe and Ron Low a rest against Detroit and start veteran Roger Crozier.
"He's been working out for five weeks with our farm teams in Springfield and Dayton, giving instructions," said McVie. "I know he doesn't want to do this full-time again, But maybehe can give our team a lift with one good game."