The Caps endured a 10-hour delay leaving Vancouver

Chris Lingebach
November 06, 2019 - 1:35 pm

The Capitals are enjoying a well-earned four-day layoff coming off a hellish seven-game stint played over 15 days across four time zones.

It started with a five-game road trip through Chicago and then across western Canada, that culminated with a cross-country flight to Toronto, before returning home to face Buffalo and Calgary at Capital One Arena.

"It was a challenge going into it. Certainly when we saw the schedule in the beginning of the year, we knew that this would be a tough one for us, for sure," Caps coach Todd Reirden told The Sports Junkies during his bi-weekly appearance Friday, presented by Sheehy Auto Stores.

"But as I talked about with you guys before we even left," he said, "it's a great chance for us to learn a little bit more about each other, both on the ice and off the ice, and we were able to have a real successful trip."

That's the understatement of this young season. The Caps won four of five games on the road trip, nearly maxing out by picking up nine points in the process. Real road warrior stuff, the type of signature trip a team looks back on after a successful season.

"It covered a few time zones. We had some flight issues. We had a lot going on in there, some adversity," said Reirden. "We were down obviously by four goals in the Vancouver game and come back and win that one.

"A lot of different ways to win and a lot of ways to grow as a group, and that's what it's about, especially when you've got new players, is connecting and gelling and creating some chemistry. And I think we did that in the month of October. I was happy with the results."

Aside from being on the road for 10 straight days, traveling through Chicago, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and finally Toronto, the Caps ran into travel issues on the final leg of their trip. 

As Mike Vogel wrote after the trip: "The Caps not only picked up a point in every game on the trip and in eight of nine road games in October, but they also had their rookie dinner/party on the trip and worked around one of their most significant road travel delays in recent memory, playing their way through four time zones in five games in the process."

About that Vancouver game. That's where things really turned sideways.

The Caps trailed 5-1 late in the second period of that game after giving up five straight goals to the Canucks. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on the literal last second of the period to cut into Vancouver's lead, making it 5-2 heading into the second intermission. An early third-period goal from Lars Eller gave the Caps a fighting chance. Minutes later, Michal Kempny would score twice within three minutes to finally erase Vancouver's four-goal lead.

Neither regulation nor overtime were enough, as the Caps went on to win in a shootout on goals from T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom.

The next morning, the Caps were scheduled to fly out of Vancouver at 9 a.m. They wouldn't depart for another 10 hours.

"It's one of the things that happens actually quite often that you never even talk about, are delays here and there, just like when everyone else is traveling," Reirden told The Junkies. "But you have certain issues with your plane, or sometimes immigration problems or customs and different things like that. We saw it all wrapped into one trip when we trying to get out of Vancouver."

"We were supposed to leave at 9 a.m.," he said, "and we didn't leave until, I think it was 7:15, something like that, p.m. So we were there, and luckily we were in the hotel, which was not a... like, that's not a terrible thing. We weren't sitting on the runway or anything like that. But the problem was the time changes and then trying to get your body clock back to normal."

"Then we flew into Toronto – we end up arriving after 3 a.m.," he said. "So by the time we got in and had to adjust things there. So that took a little creativity in terms of our management of that, between the coaches and our team services guy. So it was good, but we ended up figuring out a way to get our players as close to normal as possible, and that's part of some of the loopholes you have to go through with this travel. It's all part of it."

The Capitals are better for it. They came together through the adversity and emerged with the best record in hockey.