For Anaheim and Washington, the next two weeks will be all about suitcases, keycards and in-flight safety demonstrations.
Oh, and some hockey.
On Monday, both teams got ready to embark on their longest road trips of the season. The Ducks flew to Toronto for an eight-game swing while the Caps boarded a plane to Winnipeg for a five-gamer.
“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,” Caps head coach Adam Oates told the Washington Post. “You feel the fans are ready to get on you. On the road, mistakes can happen and it’s easier to let them go.”
Though Washington has been struggling and the road is never an easy place to play, this trip will present opportunities.
The Caps will get a Winnipeg team that’s been erratic to start the year and is just 3-4-0 at the MTS Centre, usually one of the loudest and most intimidating arenas in the NHL.
From there, Washington faces Edmonton (2-6-1), Calgary (losers of two straight), Vancouver (currently on its longest road trip of the season, a seven-gamer) and then Philly, who has just one win through eight games thus far.
As for Anaheim — well, it’s a doozy of a trip.
The Ducks begin on Tuesday in Toronto, followed by a game Thursday in Montreal, Friday in Ottawa and Sunday in Columbus. Then it’s off to Philly for a game on Tuesday, Oct. 27, in Boston Oct. 29, in Buffalo on Nov. 2 and, finally, a game against the Rangers at MSG on Nov. 4.
All told, it’s eight games in eight different cities in 13 days, an extremely tall order for the NHL’s hottest team (Anaheim’s won seven straight.)
Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau and captain Ryan Getzlaf both alluded to this lengthy trip following Sunday’s 6-3 win against Dallas at the Honda Center.
“I think we did a great job of playing for each other tonight,” Getzlaf told the OC Register (paywall). “We came out a little flat. Sometimes that happens when you’re getting ready for a long trip.”
“You want to go on the road feeling good about yourselves,” Boudreau added. “They knew that, understand it and that’s one of the reasons the good leadership came.”
Note: The Caps do have another five-game roadie this season, from Jan. 24-31 — in New Jersey, Montreal, Buffalo, Columbus and Detroit — but that trip is only seven days in length, whereas this upcoming one is nine days long.