When a team is winning, it can't play too often, say Capitals coach Terry Murray and a number of his players. So as Washington begins a five-game, seven-day western trip tonight in Edmonton, the team couldn't be happier.
"When you're winning and you get on a roll, you never get tired," Murray said. "Everything good is happening. All the work is paying off, and you want to keep doing it."
Washington, which started the season 0-6, has started to rebound. The Capitals are going to the net hard, outshooting the competition and playing well on specialty teams and defense.
"I think this trip comes at the right time," said left wing Craig Berube. "A lot of games is good because it keeps us thinking hockey. We got off on the wrong foot and now we have a chance to recover."
The Capitals have played three consecutive good games, a 3-0 loss to Philadelphia, a 4-3 victory over Buffalo and a 6-3 stomping of a very good Los Angeles Kings team. The two victories have the Capitals' spirits soaring.
"We're playing with so much more confidence, so much more jump in our legs," said Washington goalie Don Beaupre. "It's amazing what winning can do. In our first six games, everything was so out of hand. We were over-playing the puck, overreacting to plays. Now we're not thinking so much, as we are just reacting and it's working."
But the Capitals are thinking about this road trip. With a 2-6
record, they are last in the Atlantic Division, and they have yet to win on the road.
"We're looking to get back to .500," said Beaupre, who was brilliant in making 27 saves Friday against Los Angeles. "If you play .500 on the road, that's generally pretty good. But in our situation, we need to do better than that, and there aren't any easy games out there."
Murray describes this trip as big.
"The Los Angeles game was a must win for us," he said. "We needed to get something good going. This trip isn't make or break, but the urgency is there. If you go out and win two or five, it isn't going to break your season. But we've got to start catching up from our poor start. I'd like to win them all, but I'd be happy if we came back 3-2."
Much of the responsibility of making up ground lies with Beaupre.
"He's the one who can win us games on the road," Murray said. "The home teams are going to try to do good things in the first 10 minutes. They're going to bombard us and try to overwhelm us. If Donnie can hang in there, make a couple big saves to allow everyone else to settle down, it can make the difference."
Murray also hopes to strengthen his goaltending on this trip by getting goaltender Rick Tabaracci back.
Murray said he would like Tabaracci to join the team as early as tomorrow in Calgary and wants to get him into a game as soon as possible. If that happens, rookie Byron Dafoe is likely to return to Portland.