As the 2016-17 NHL season quickly approaches, the Capitals will look to defend their Metropolitan Division crown, and they will attempt to remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
At the end of 82 games in 2015-16, the Capitals recorded a 56-18-8 record, good for 120 points. It was one of the best records in franchise history. Repeating this record in 2016-17 will not be an easy task for the Capitals.
There are no easy schedules for any team in the NHL, as the competitive balance around the league is as high as it has ever been.
Can the Washington Capitals get a similar number of wins and points in 2016-17? Let’s dive in to their upcoming schedule and see where their winnable (and tough) stretches will be.
TOUGHEST 2-WEEK STRETCH: JANUARY 16, 2017 – JANUARY 31, 2017
During this 2-week period, the Capitals will play 7 games, with 6 of the games taking place on the road. The 6 road games are in some difficult locations. In this road stretch, the Capitals will play in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Dallas, Ottawa, New Jersey, and New York (Islanders).
The Capitals will get a good dose of their toughest Metropolitan Division opponents, and will face two of the top teams in the Central Division. It is important for the Capitals to get some quality wins in their first 3 games of this period. The Penguins could be battling with the Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, while the Blues and Stars will most likely be competing against each other for the top spot in the Central Division.
TOUGHEST MONTH: MARCH
March 2017 will be a busy month for the Capitals. They will play 15 games in the month, and will have 2 back-to-back game situations. The Capitals will head west for about a week in early March, and will face the California trio of San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. At the end of the month, they will head back out West and take a tour of Minnesota, Colorado, and Arizona.
Out of the 15 games in March, the Capitals will face 8 teams who made the playoffs in 2015-16. The Capitals will also get tested by non-playoff teams in this month. The Blue Jackets, Coyotes, and Flames have all given tough tests for the Capitals in recent years, so these are teams that the Capitals cannot sleep on.
HOME-COOKING STRETCH: NOVEMBER 16, 2016 – DECEMBER 7, 2016
In this ten-game stretch, the Capitals will play 8 games at the Phone Booth. The first half of this stretch of 10 games features 5 straight home games. This 10-game stretch will test the Capitals. They will face off against 5 playoff teams: Pittsburgh, Detroit, St. Louis, New York Islanders, and Tampa Bay.
This stretch of games is very critical for the Capitals because it can help set the tone for how their long winter will go. The Capitals got on a roll in late November 2015, and won their last 5 games to end the month. This string of wins gave the Capitals momentum heading into December, where they ended up winning 11 out of 15 games.
October 13, 2016 – First game of the season for the Capitals in Pittsburgh
December 21, 2016 – First game in Philadelphia since the 2016 Quarterfinals
January 1, 2017 – New Year’s Day game versus the Ottawa Senators
February 5, 2017 – Super Bowl Sunday game versus the Los Angeles Kings
April 9, 2017 – Last home game against the Florida Panthers
REST EASY, HEAL UP, TAKE A NAP WEEK: FEBRUARY 12, 2017 – FEBRUARY 17, 2017
The Washington Capitals have a stretch of no games from February 12, 2017 to February 17, 2017.
Capitals fans, you can go and take a mini-vacation somewhere during this stretch of time.
By: George Foussekis