The caps open the season with a bang and a lot of good hockey seems to be on tap for Caps fans during the first month of the season. The Caps will play 6 road games and 7 home games in October. Eight of the 13 games will be against playoff teams. During October the Caps play three games against Western Conference opponents and eight against Eastern Conference foes; the only Southeastern Division team the Caps face in October is Atlanta who they play twice - both games against the Thrashers are away at Philips Center. The other team the Caps play twice in October is the Philadelphia Flyers once on the road and once at home. The Caps Home opener is on Saturday October 3rd at 7pm against the Toronto Maple Leafs. During October the Caps play seven (7) home games. Three are weekend games - Saturday, October 3rd at 7PM against the Maple Leafs; Saturday, October 17th vs. Nashville at 7PM; and Friday, October 30th against the Islanders. They have four other home games on weeknights during the first month of the season. They play the Rangers at Verizon on Thursday October 8th in a game that will no doubt be loud with a lot of Rockin' the Red going on. The week of October 12 through 17th features a three game home stand - they play the NJ Devils at the Phone Booth on Monday the 12th, the San Jose Sharks on Thursday the 15th and then the Saturday game against the Predators. Tuesday October 27th sees the Caps take on the Flyers. The October schedule means the Caps need to start the season ready to play top quality hockey and it should get everyone back into a hockey mood pretty quickly.
The November schedule brings Caps fans a 14 game menu - 6 home games and 8 road games. Perhaps more interesting is the combos and match ups in November. The Caps traditional Thanksgiving home game is apparently, at least for now, a thing of the past, though the Caps will host the Sabres at VC on the evening of Wednesday November 25th. The November schedule starts at home on Sunday November 1st against Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets; the Caps next play the Devils at "the Rock" on Wed 11/4, then they travel to Sunrise Florida for the first of a home and home on back to back nights against the Florida Panthers on Friday 11/6, the other bookend of that match up occurs on Saturday evening 11/7 at Verizon. The 11/7 game is the first of a three day home-stand that also includes the Islanders on Wed 11/11 before it's capped off on Friday 11/13 against the Minnesota Wild. Then it's off to a game the next night against Martin Brodeur and the Devils in Newark the very next night Saturday 11/14 followed by a Tuesday match up on 11/17 against the Rangers at MSG. The Caps then get a two day break before they play back to back games against Montreal and Toronto - they take on the Habs at home on Friday 11/20 then travel to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs on HNIC (Hockey Night In Canada) on 11/21. After that the Thanksgiving week schedule looks interesting as well: @ Ottawa on Monday 11/23, @ home against the Sabres on Wed 11/25, @ Montreal on Saturday 11/28 (Will that be the game they play in the Olympic Arena? --- uh, no...apparently n ot going to happen at least not this season.) The Caps wrap up November in Raleigh, NC when they face the Division Rival Carolina Hurricanes for the first time of the season. All told, November isn't any easier than October. The Caps have two instance when they play on back to back nights, their longest break is a four day stretch from November 7th (2nd of a home and home at home against the Panthers) until November 11th (road game against the Islanders). Also even though only 5 of the 14 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, only three are against SE Division foes and the only two games against Western COnference foes are against two pretty good teams Columbus and Minnesota.
December brings the Holiday season as well as a 13 game lineup for Caps fans. Of the 13 games scheduled, only 5 are home games and there is a four game road trip from 12/12 to 12/19 that takes the Caps on their first West Coast swing of the season. The second West coast swing bridges the end of the month and starts with a 12/30 game against San Jose followed by the first Caps game of 2010 in Los Angeles against the Kings on January 2nd. During the 13 games in December the Caps play 4 different Western Conference foes once a piece, they also play 4 games against Southeast Division rivals - Carolina twice (both games at home for the Caps), Florida once (home game) and Tampa Bay once (away in Saint Petersburg on Pearl Harbor Day). December's home ice schedule starts again Thursday, December 3rd but then the Caps don't have another home game until Friday, December 11th when they face Carolina. After the Carolina game on 11/11, Caps fans won't get to Rock the Red again at VC until the Caps kick off a three game home-stand on Wednesday 12/23 against the Buffalo Sabres, then it's the New Jersey Devils on Saturday 12/26 followed by a home game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday 12/28. Before the Caps travel out west to take on the Sharks and Kings. As you look at it and think about it, if you're a season ticket holder it just feels weird - December is "feast" or "famine" for watching Hockey live in the District. It got me thinking what's the Hershey Bears Schedule look like during the Caps West Coast swing from 12/12 to 12/23. However, as far as I could quickly tell the AHL schedule hasn't been fully set or released yet, but it's a thought.
By the end of December the Caps will have played 40 games and the Season will be almost 1/2 over, and despite having played 20 games against teams that made the 2009 playoffs, they will not have yet played a game against (either home or away) the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. During the first six weeks of 2010, the period between New years day and the NHL's two week season break for the 2010 Olympics, that situation changes. During those six weeks the Caps play 22 games - 11 home games and 11 away games, one of the away games - Thursday, January 21st is in Pittsburgh and the home game on Sunday February 7th is an afternoon game against the Penguins. Other highlights for the six weeks between New Years and the Olympics include a three game home-stand against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Florida on January 9th, 12th and 13th; and Stanley Cup finalists week when the Caps host Detroit on Tuesday January 19th and then travel to Pittsburgh on January 21st. It'll also be interesting to see if the whole Phoenix ownership thing is something folks are still talking about when the 'yotes get to Verizon on Saturday January 23rd for their game. Of the 22 games during that six weeks only 7 are against 2009 playoff teams, 5 are against Western Conference foes and 6 are against other Southeast Division opponents.
The Caps return to post - Olympic action on the road in Buffalo on Monday, March 3rd. During the six final weeks of the season (March 3rd to April ) the Caps play 20 games, 8 on the road and 12 at home. Additionally since 4 of the road games come in a single road stretch from March 14th through March 20th, there's a lot of hockey being play at Verizon Center during March and April. The Caps have a 5 game home-stand - their longest of the season between March 4th and March 12th; and a 3 game home-stand between March 28th and April 1st. The Caps end their season at home this season, their final two games of the regular season are at home - Atlanta, Friday April 9th and Boston, Sunday, April 11th. Other highlight games of that six weeks are likely to be: Pittsburgh at Verizon on Wednesday, March 24th and in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, April 6th; @ Chicago, Sunday, March 14th; Calgary @ Verizon on Sunday, March 28th; and @ Columbus on Saturday, March 3rd. In fact the March 3rd game against the Blue jackets might make for a fun road trip. In any case during those 20 games that the Caps play the final six weeks of the season, they play 7 games against Southeaster Division foes; 12 games against 2009 playoff teams; and 4 games against Western Conference teams - 2 home and 2 away.
So it's a pretty cool schedule and other than the 2 weeks when we'll all want to be consumed by the Olympics, it provides a nice steady diet for Caps fans to feast on. I can't wait till October 3rd after looking it over for an hour.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!