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