x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A team quick to Capitalise

The Washington Capitals are off to a fast start, but they are not getting too excited about it. 'It's October,' says the centre, Mike Kuble.

Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammates are not allowing themselves to look too far ahead despite their fast start to the season.
Alex Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammates are not allowing themselves to look too far ahead despite their fast start to the season.

The Washington Capitals are not putting much stock in the fact they are the only unbeaten team in the National Hockey League, not with 75 games still to go in the regular season.

"We are definitely happy where we are, but we still have a lot of work to do," Mike Green, the defenceman, said.

The Capitals are no strangers to having a stellar regular season record, of course.

In the 2009/10 campaign, they had the best record in the league but lost to Montreal in the first round of the play-offs. Last season, they were the best team in the Eastern Division but lost to Tampa Bay in the second round.

That might be one reason why they are not euphoric over this fast start, which reached 7-0 when they punished the Detroit Red Wings 7-1 on Saturday night in a showdown between the only two unbeaten teams in the NHL.

Now the Capitals have that distinction all to themselves.

They are the first team to open the season with seven successive victories since the 1994/95 Pittsburgh Penguins. And while they are well aware that there is a long way to go, their confidence is growing with each game.

"It shows that we've got a lot of depth and everyone can score every night," said Mathieu Perreault, one of 14 Capitals to have either a goal or an assist against Detroit.

"It makes our team pretty tough to play against. You got to get out there with four lines ready to go every night because our four lines are ready to go every night. It feels pretty good right now."

"I think we've stepped up to the challenges," said Green, who scored two goals and had two assists against Detroit. "[But] we played a solid 40 minutes, and it's got to be 60."

Tomas Vokoun, the goalie, has had a lot to do with Washington's early success, starting and playing well in the last six games. He made 32 saves against Detroit, starting off with a sprawling stop on Pavel Datsyuk five minutes in that set the tone.

The Capitals have outscored their opponents by a combined 30-14 to start the season. Their goal differential of plus-16 is by far the best in the league.

But not every win has been as dominant as Saturday's. Last week, they struggled to a sloppy 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

"It's October, " said Mike Kuble, the centre. "That's not going to float - you're not going to want to see that - in February, March, April.

"In October it's fine. You work on it and we'll be better."