The month of October will be a doozy for the Washington Capitals. The Capitals will open their season on the road on October 2 and will face the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues.
October is not particularly the strongest month for the Capitals. The Capitals went 5-3-2 in October 2018.
October 2019 will be challenging for the Capitals right off the bat. The Capitals will play seven teams in the first three weeks of the regular season that made the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After the early three-week gauntlet, the Capitals will hit the road for five straight games. They will first take on a Blackhawks team that will likely be improved from a season ago. After the Capitals face the Blackhawks, they will hit the road for Western Canada and will play three games in four nights out there. Once the Capitals leave Western Canada, they will head back east and will face the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road.
DO NOT SLEEP ON THE NON-PLAYOFF TEAMS
The Washington Capitals will face four non-playoff teams from a season ago in October. Those teams include the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks.
The Rangers had a memorable offseason, as they landed Kaapo Kakko with the #2 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. In addition to Kakko, the Rangers landed the biggest free agent of the summer with Artemi Panarin. The Rangers rebuild may have accelerated a bit over the summer with their newest additions. The Rangers finished with only 78 points in the standings a season ago, but they will likely trend up after their great summer.
The Blackhawks had the #3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and selected Kirby Dach with that selection. Dach is a big forward, who could likely crack the Blackhawks opening roster next season.
While the Edmonton Oilers are in the middle of a rebuild, Connor McDavid is an excellent generational talent. He can single-handedly win some games for the Oilers. When the Capitals face the Oilers this season, they will be under a new direction led by new GM Ken Holland and new Head Coach Dave Tippett. Holland is a proven winner, as he served many years as the GM with the Detroit Red Wings. Tippett is also a proven NHL coach, as he has coached in over 1,100 NHL games.
Like the Oilers, the Canucks are still rebuilding and continue to add younger players to their lineup. The Canucks were led by Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson a season ago. Pettersson racked up 28 goals and 66 points in his stellar rookie campaign.
TOUGH EASTERN CONFERENCE COMPETITION
While the Capitals will see the Western Conference more in October, they will get a heavy dosage of Metropolitan Division foes in the opening week. The Capitals will see the Islanders on October 4 at the Nassau Coliseum, and will open their home slate with the Carolina Hurricanes on October 5.
The Capitals will see the Toronto Maple Leafs twice in October. The Leafs finished third in the Atlantic Division a season ago. It is possible that the Capitals could catch the Leafs at the right time, as Mitch Marner continues his contract holdout with the Leafs. Marner finished with 26 goals and 94 points a season ago. If Marner continues his holdout into the regular season, the Capitals could benefit from his absence.
By: George Foussekis