The Capitals will be looking to get out of the blocks quickly this next week, more so than usual. With ten percent of their home games occurring during the first week of the season, early wins will be paramount. However, over the past three season the Caps have traditionally started slow, going a combined 11-17-2.
The Caps kick off their 41st season with four straight home games, including a tilt versus the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the 3rd game of the season. Considering the questionable status of top-line centerman Nicklas Backstrom, and the integration of new key players including T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, and a completely new third defensive line (Orlov and Schmidt projected), the Caps will need to find an early cohesiveness – a tall order considering the number of new faces and the departure of locker room staples such as Mike Green, Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Eric Fehr.
Following the 4-straight home games, the Caps immediately head west for their traditional Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton swing, before returning home to face the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday 10/28 and Friday 10/30 respectively. The Caps will finish their first ten games of the season back on the road again, this time in Florida when they take on the Panthers on Halloween.
With six of the first 10 games at home (or almost 15% of their home schedule), a challenging early west coast swing, and two more tough opponents when they return home from the west coast swing, a good start will provide an early season challenge for the club and a good measuring stick as well.
By Jon Sorensen