After winning seven straight to begin the season, the Washington Capitals are in the middle of a rare four day-break in between games. It is a nice rest from an intense stretch vs. teams like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Detroit, but with time off they run the risk of losing momentum. It is a subject players at Caps practice can see both sides of.
Well find out, you never know until you go through it, goalie Tomas Vokoun said. Sometimes it is a good thing, sometimes it takes a little bit away from the momentum.
Vokoun explained how can be a good thing, as a time to reassess as a team and also spend some time with teammates. The Caps pick back up on Thursday against Edmonton, the first of four road games in their next five overall. Washington has only traveled twice this season and havent had to go very far, having only played at Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Heading to Edmonton and then Vancouver will give the Capitals some time away from D.C., a time that players view as valuable long-term.
We would all like to keep playing games, but at the same time I think were looking forward to having some time on the road, forward Mike Knuble said.
We dont go away as a team in training camp or anything and were all busy off the ice. It will be nice to spend some time together out there, relax, and try to keep this thing going.
The Caps will try and continue their streak with what some could call a proverbial bulls-eye on their back.
When you start a season like that it is hard because everyone is going to want to end your streak, Vokoun said.
Tomas Vokoun knows something about starting hot as he was in net for the 2005-06 Nashville Predators who won eight straight to begin the year. He says this time around it feels a little different.
It is hard to win seven games to start the season no matter where you are, but
in Nashville it was more of a surprise than I think it is for people here, he said.
This is a good, strong team. I think if we play to our capabilities we dont necessarily have to worry about if we have a long break or who we play. I think we should be in the state of mind that people should worry about us more than we should worry about them.
At the age of 35, and with over 600 career NHL games under his belt, Vokoun has seen the ups and downs of a long regular season. He says you cant get comfortable, but at the same time it is good to understand exactly why you won those games.
When you have good momentum you are trying to keep it as long as you can and remember that is wasnt given, we won those games and it wasnt just handed to us, he said.
It is a tough situation in a way, not trying to get complacent while hearing nothing but positivity from the press. Knuble said the coaches will do their best to keep the pace up in practice and try and recreate some things. But as Tomas Vokoun reiterated twice while speaking to the media, you never know until you go through it. The Capitals will find out on Thursday against an up-and-coming Oilers team that is 3-1-1 at home and features the last two number one overall draft picks in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.