<
>
Insider

Why this season could be different for Capitals

The Capitals have a deep team and don't need Alex Ovechkin to play as many minutes. Tony Quinn/Iconsportswire¬≠.com

The Washington Capitals are unlike any other team in the NHL standings. For one, you don’t get too concerned when they drop the first two games out of their bye week break, like they did over the weekend, mostly because they’ve built a big enough cushion to afford for the occasional slipup. Plus, the schedule-maker did them no favors, sending the Capitals on the road for a pair of matinee games following a week off, eliminating two possible morning skates to get timing back.

That has a way of slowing down a powerhouse.

“You just feel like you want to do more with your hands, you forget how to handle the puck or shoot the puck,” explained Alex Ovechkin of the impact.

But it goes both ways.

The concern level isn’t high for this team facing consecutive losses, but there aren’t a lot of bouquets thrown the Capitals' direction when they reel off regular-season wins. It’s the consequence of years of regular-season success followed by playoff failure.

Rather than blindly celebrate their successes, you look for reasons to think this team is different from those in the past. There’s definitely a sense these Capitals are different, but there was last year, too.

Right now, there is one concrete difference that could end up paying dividends in the spring: the distribution of ice time.