“And down the stretch they come”! One of my favorite calls in all of sports. It never fails to raise the hair on the back of neck, and in this case it’s no different, only we’re not talking horse racing. The Caps are currently positioned to make a historic run, and it all starts following the All-Star break.
The Capitals have 35 games remaining on the schedule – 18 games at home and 17 games on the road (including two rescheduled games at home for games postponed due to the winter storm on January 22nd and January 24th). The days of long stretches of consecutive days-off are over for the Capitals, with no more than two consecutive days-off for the remainder of the season.
The Capitals longest remaining home stand will be a four-game stretch at the end of February – New Jersey (2/22), Arizona (2/22), Montreal (2/24) and Minnesota (2/26). It should be noted that two home games will need to be added (not included in this break down) to make-up for the postponed games, which will likely increase a stretch of games for remaining home stands.
The Capitals longest road trip after the All-star break has the team playing four games in 8 days at the beginning of March. Prior to starting the road trip, the Capitals will host the Rangers on March 4th, then head to Boston for a game the following night. The team will then head west from Boston for their annual California run of games – Anaheim (3/7), Los Angeles (3/9) and San Jose (3/12).
The next stiffest road-test for the team will be a stretch of games at the end of March where the Capitals play three road games in four nights – Philadelphia (3/30), Colorado (4/1) and Arizona the next night (4/2).
Rescheduling Postponed Games
The Capitals will most likely have to add one of the make-up games on a date that will create an additional back-to-back set. Having no greater than a two-day break remaining on their schedule, any game added will create an additional back-to-back set. The question remains, when? and what type of back-to-back set will be created.
The possibility of adding a game to the end of the season (after the St. Louis game) is also a potential option. However, according to Mike Vogel, it would most likely only be for one of the two makeup games.
2/22 300th consecutive sell-out for the Capitals at Verizon Center.
2/29 NHL trade deadline.
So where do we stand? The month of February will have the Caps eating the most home cooking and have the easiest strength of schedule. March looks to be the most challenging month ahead for the Capitals, with regards to travel and strength of schedule.
Jay Beagle is slated to return in mid-February and Brooks Orpik is expected to return at some point in the near future. With the addition of Mike Richards, some minor roster modifications will be required, likely in February, prior to the trade deadline.
By Jon Sorensen