The Washington Post

Capitals prepare for longest road trip of the season

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

In just a few hours the Capitals will board their chartered flight to Winnipeg, kicking off their five-game road trip that includes a nine-day journey through Western Canada to visit the Jets, Oilers, Flames and Canucks.

After spending the past two weeks at home unable to establish the rhythm that they wanted in Verizon Center, Washington (3-5-0) is looking forward to the extended time on the road, where teams can sometimes find a simple and consistent game more easily.

“We’re going into some tough environments so we’ve got to be playing good hockey, but I think one of the things is there’s always a little pressure when you fail early in a game at home,” Coach Adam Oates said. “You feel the fans are ready to get on you. On the road, mistakes can happen and it’s easier to let them go.”

The Capitals haven’t visited Calgary since October 2010 and this will be their first trip back to both Edmonton and Vancouver since October 2011. Thanks to realignment and the reconfigured NHL schedule, teams won’t have to wait multiple years between hosting every opponent, and the players are glad to be able to face every team in the league.

“I’m kind of missing road games,” Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s always nice to play at home but when there’s too much going on here you just want to go on the road, spend time in hotel and enjoy it.”

>> Defenseman John Erskine is “very close” to returning to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury, Oates said. He’ll be reassessed Tuesday morning in Winnipeg.

>> Oates said he expects Michal Neuvirth to get at least one start on this upcoming trip.

>> Lines and defensive pairings were the same in Monday’s practice as they were in the 4-1 win over Columbus.



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