For Capitals, All-Star Break Couldn’t Come At Better Time
The Washington Capitals will have 10 days to regroup during the All-Star break, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The Washington Capitals were in a must-win situation going into Tuesday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which was the team's final game ahead of the All-Star Break. They delivered with a 4-3 overtime win, with the extra 26 seconds of hockey making the victory even sweeter.
It capped off a tough month for the Capitals, who finished with a 6-7-1 record after as stellar December. Not only was the team dealing with struggles on offense, poor defensive coverage and inconsistency, but Washington was also operating without John Carlson and lost Nic Dowd and Tom Wilson to lower-body injuries as well. Alex Ovechkin also dealt with a lower-body injury late in the month and should have some time to rest following his appearance at the 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend, and T.J. Oshie is playing through back issues, too.
That being said, the 10-day break couldn't come at a better time for the Capitals.
“This hasn’t really been the month that we’ve exactly wanted or planned," Jensen noted. "But to finish going into going into break with a win, it’s huge. And then we get to reset a little bit, everyone gets to rest up some injuries, get 100 percent and come back. And hopefully, we can go on some runs here.”
Dowd, who remains on the IR after being hurt on Jan. 16 following an awkward hit on Cal Clutterbuck, agreed and said that getting that extra time away is crucial as he works his way back and continues to rehabilitate.
"Personally, I was pretty fortunate just because another 10, 11 days of missing, if we were in the season, that's potentially another five games," Dowd said in an interview iwth 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday. "Right now, I'm at a total of six missed since I got hurt two weeks ago. I think just these extra 10, 11 days of healing and getting back into it will be really helpful for me."
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He also said that the "mental break" was just as important for the players.
"Physically guys can play the rest of this season before the rest of this break… guys are just able to get away from hockey and then we got 21 games [left]."
Right now, Washington remains in the first Wild Card spot and has a bit of a cushion with a three-point advantage over the Pittsburgh Penguins, a four-point advantage over the Buffalo Sabres and a five-point advantage over the New York Islanders.
And, while the other clubs have games in hand, Evgeny Kuznetsov, whose OT winner on Tuesday provided some optimism ahead of the break, noted that the situation the team is in should help the team carry over the momentum while helping the group refresh.
"I believe in our team always," Kuznetsov said, adding, "Everybody can smile now and makes big difference… it's important for us and we can go mental a little stronger for the break."