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Will Obama catch a game at Verizon Center?

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Will Obama catch a game at Verizon Center?

There are a few things coaches, players and fans look for on the day their team’s NHL schedule is released, so let’s delve a little deeper into the Capitals’ 2015-16 schedule.

Caps fans won’t have to wait long to see the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, who make their first appearance in Washington, probably accompanied by a visit to the White House, on Oct. 15. [Hey, maybe President Obama will actually attend the game to root on one of his hometown teams.]

It’s worth noting that last year the Caps were without a coach and general manager when the 2014-15 NHL schedule was being drawn up and that the Caps were hit with 16 back-to-back games.

That’s something that could not have pleased Barry Trotz, who coached the Caps to an 8-6-2 record in the front end of those back-to-backs and a 7-8-1 record on the back end for an overall mark of 15-14-3.

This year, the Caps have 13 sets of back-to-back games – two in October, three in November, two in December, two in January, one in February, two in March, and one in April.

The Caps will play 10 games in October [six at home], 13 in November [eight at home], 14 in December [five at home], 12 in January [six at home], 14 in February [eight at home], 14 in March [six at home] and five in April [two at home].

Trotz undoubtedly has already looked ahead to the final 16 days of the regular season, when the Caps play nine times, including twice against the … St. Louis Blues? The Caps close out the regular season with games at New Jersey, at home against the Blues and Blue Jackets, at Philadelphia, Colorado and Arizona, at home against the Islanders and Penguins, and then off to St. Louis for the regular season finale against the Blues on Saturday, April 9.

Trotz might also like the fact the Caps play just six afternoon games this season, compared to 10 last season, when they went 4-5-1 in games played at 3 p.m. or earlier.

As for the players, the Canadians on the Capitals’ roster will be pleased to be informed they’ll be making four appearances on Hockey Night In Canada: Saturday, Nov. 7 at home against the Maple Leafs, Saturday, Nov. 28 in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 5 in Winnipeg, and Saturday, Dec. 26 at home against the Canadiens.

The Caps players and their wives may also like the fact that their first trip to Western Canada involves three games in four nights [Oct. 20 in Calgary, Oct. 22 in Vancouver and Oct. 23 in Edmonton] and is followed by a four-day break in the schedule.

The players might also like the fact the Caps are playing a noon home game against the Flyers on Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 27, giving themselves and their fans plenty of time to load up on appetizers for the big game.  

Caps fans will get to boo Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the first month of the season. The Pens make their first of two visits to Verizon Center on Wednesday, Oct. 28. They return on Jan. 24 and again on April 7.

The Caps have to wait until Nov. 3 to make their first visit to Madison Square Garden since being eliminated by the Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal, while Caps fans must wait until Jan. 17 to give the Blueshirts and earful.

Fans who love a little chippiness might want to check out the Caps’ Dec. 30 home game against the Sabres. Not only does it promise to be a chance to see phenom Jack Eichel, but it marks the only time all season the Caps play back-to-back games against the same opponent, which almost always results in paybacks from the game before.

Fans might also want to circle Nov. 23 on their calendars, since that’s the night Connor McDavid is expected to make his first appearance in Washington against former Erie Otters teammate Andre Burakovsky.

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS 2015-16 FULL SCHEDULE

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Tom Wilson immediately moves back onto the top line for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota

Tom Wilson immediately moves back onto the top line for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota

After a neutral arbitrator reduced Tom Wilson’s suspension on Tuesday, head coach Todd Reirden is wasting no time getting him back into the lineup. Wilson will make his season debut against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday  (8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Washington) and he will play on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

“That's where he's most comfortable,” Reirden said after the team’s morning skate Tuesday.

“They had some preseason time together and I thought it was the right move to do tonight. I liked some of the things that we saw from some of the adjustments we made last game, but I think this will allow Tom to have the most success after an extended period of time out of game action.”

With Wilson’s return the Caps will have their full offensive lineup for the first time this season. After reuniting Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on the top line for Sunday’s game, Reirden has elected to change things again go with the same top nine that worked so effectively during the team’s playoff run last season, per Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson – Travis Boyd – Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
Michal Kempny – Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos – Madison Bowey

Pheonix Copley to start.

The addition of Wilson dramatically changes the team’s lineup and chemistry. Not only does it make the lineup deeper, he also obviously adds a major physical element.

“He's such a big part of our team, of the way we play, of the culture on and off the ice that we've been missing something,” Oshie said. “It's been 43 so it's great to have him back.”

While the Caps are getting their top-line winger back, the team is also entering the game well aware that it may take time for him to get up to game speed.

“For him, we have to have realistic expectations that he's going to have a little bit of a learning curve here in terms of getting back up to speed and getting back up to the pace of play which is something that's at an all-time high this year,” Reirden said.

With that in mind, do not be surprised to see the Caps shuffle their offensive lines throughout the night rather than lean on Wilson to play 18+ minutes in his first game back, especially if the Caps get into penalty trouble and Wilson plays on the penalty kill.

While Wilson did travel with the team in the event that his suspension would be reduced and he would be eligible to play, neither he nor the team received any advanced notice that he would be available.

“I wake up this morning and at 8:30 I get news I've got to get ready to play,” Wilson said.

“It was definitely a unique experience, one that you don't ever want to go through, a bit eye-opening. At the end of the day, there's a game today, I've got to focus on that and it's a big road trip so I've got to focus on this team getting back on track and do whatever I can to help out.”

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TJ Oshie celebrates Tom Wilson's return with incredible 'Free Willy 3' poster

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USA Today Sports

TJ Oshie celebrates Tom Wilson's return with incredible 'Free Willy 3' poster

After 16 games and an up and down start to 2018, the Washington Capitals can finally welcome their stud right winger Tom Wilson back to the lineup. 

On Tuesday, Wilson's 20-game suspension was reduced to 14 thanks to a neutral arbitrator. 

TJ Oshie apparently couldn't contain his excitement as he took to Twitter sharing a hilarious poster to celebrate. 

This wasn't the first time Wilson's fellow right winger posted something comical regarding Wilson's suspension. In fact, Tuesday's celebratory tweet completed the trilogy. 

Remember the initial Free Willy poster that kicked things off in October 2017? 

Or what about the sequel from last May? 

The Capitals travel to Minnesota for an 8 p.m. puck drop Tuesday night and although his playing status is unconfirmed, all signs point towards it being likely the 24-year-old will be in the lineup. 

 

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