Capitals

Capitals

The 2019-20 season gets underway Wednesday as the Capitals head to St. Louis to take on the defending champs.

You can catch all the pregame action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live at 7 p.m. and Caps Pregame Live at 7:30 p.m. Tune in to NBCSN at 8 p.m. for the game, then switch back to NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

As if you needed any more motivation to watch the opener, here are four reasons you should be watching on Wednesday.

It’s the season opener

Duh. It has been 161 days since the Caps last played meaningful hockey. That is way too long.

Sure, in the grander scheme of things, this is only one game in an 82-game season, the makeup of the roster is temporary until Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny return and let’s not forget that Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom are on the final year of their contracts.

But on Wednesday we get to forget all about that other stuff. For this game, we all get to enjoy the fact that real hockey is back. That alone is a reason to watch.

Champion vs. champion

As has become somewhat of a tradition now, the Caps will once again open their season seeing the banner of the Stanley Cup champs raised to the rafters. Last year it was their own, but two years prior to that they played in Pittsburgh after the Penguins’ 2016 championship. In 2013, they were in Chicago when the Blackhawks celebrated their 2013 Cup. That’s four times in the past seven years.

This matchup will be slightly different, however, as it features the last two champions meeting in the opener.

In 2018, the Caps obliterated the Boston Bruins 7-0 after the Cup banners were raised to the rafters of Capital One Arena. They better be ready for the Blues who are going to be pumped for this one.

Alex Ovechkin 

Ovechkin has played 14 seasons in the NHL. Wednesday’s game will be the start of the 15th. He is a player who feeds off of big moments and loves the spotlight on the ice which has led to some pretty spectacular opening night performances.

In 14 previous opening nights, Ovechkin has 10 goals and seven assists. In fact, he is tied for the most goals and the most points in season-opening games among active players. He came to camp early and looking lean. After a long offseason, he will be chomping at the bit to get into action and his body will be well-rested. 

The newcomers

The team remained largely intact last season after winning the Cup, but this year there are several new players that fans will have to get to know. Preseason aside, this is our first chance to see Richard Panik, Brendan Leipsic, Garnet Hathaway and Radko Gudas play with the Caps.

Panik is going to be relied upon both offensively and defensively, Leipsic and Hathaway are part of a revamped fourth line and Gudas will likely be a mainstay on defense. These are players with significant roles meant to boost the team’s defense and improve the lineup. Will those effects be evident in Game 1?

Wednesday’s game is also expected to be the NHL debut of defensive prospect Martin Fehervary. He will skate next to Gudas on the team’s third defensive pair. The Caps raved about Fehervary throughout camp and, with Michal Kempny still injured, the team needed someone to plug into that hole.

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