With the 2014-2015 NHL season quickly approaching, what games stand out the most on the Capitals schedule?
Hockey season is almost back in full swing. The Washington Capitals are set to prove that last season’s disappointment is something that will not become a regular thing.
It is difficult to win games in the NHL. The competitive balance in the NHL is as tight as it has ever been before. There are not too many “easy” games and any team has to earn any points that they can get on any given night.
So what are the biggest games of the season for the Washington Capitals? What games will have the biggest impact on their season? What games will mean the most to the organization?
Let’s take a look at 5 of the biggest games in the upcoming 2014-2015 NHL season:
October 9 vs. Montreal: Home Opener
The home opener is always one of the biggest games of the season. The Capitals will open their regular season at home and will face the Montreal Canadiens.
This will be the Canadiens second game of the season and it will be on the tail end of a back to back. The Canadiens will square off against the Maple Leafs the night before they make the trip to D.C.
This will be an early test for the Washington Capitals. PK Subban is always the center of attention when the Canadiens come into town. He became a very rich man in this offseason after he signed an eight-year, $72 million extension with the Canadiens.
Let’s not forget Canadian Olympic goaltender Carey Price who could be in the net for the Habs when they play visitor in the Capitals home opener. He is pretty good.
December 27 @ Pittsburgh: Former Penguins Return to the ‘Burgh
December 27 is the day that former Penguins (and now Capitals) defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen will return back to Consol Energy Center.
Orpik was drafted by the Penguins in the first round back in 2000 and has played his entire career in their organization. The 33-year old San Francisco, CA native is known for his rugged physical style that Capitals fans know too well about. He was given a massive five-year deal by the Capitals on July 1st that will keep him under contract until he is 38-years old.
Matt Niskanen was one of the hottest unrestricted free agents this summer. He signed a big seven-year deal with the Capitals after spending close to four seasons with the Penguins. The Virginia, MN native scored 10 goals and 46 points with the Penguins in 2013-2014. Niskanen is a former 2005 first round pick of the Dallas Stars.
January 1 vs. Chicago: (Winter Classic)
The New Year’s Day outdoor hockey spectacular known as the Winter Classic will take place in Washington D.C. this year. The opponent will be the Stanley Cup contending Chicago Blackhawks.
This will be the Capitals second outdoor hockey game as they last participated in the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. The Capitals fans are looking forward to hosting the outdoor game for the first time.
The game will be nationally televised on NBC at 1 PM. The biggest question for the event still looms in the air: where will it be played at? The logical guess is Nationals Park. Other possible venues include Fedex Field, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and RFK Stadium.
February 1 vs. St. Louis (Super Bowl Sunday)
The Capitals always seem to have an opponent on Super Bowl Sunday. This season, it is another Stanley Cup contending team with the St. Louis Blues.
This is a good test for the Capitals to see where they stack up against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The Blues play a big brawny defensive style of hockey. Will it be enough to slow a high powered Capitals team down? Will former Avalanche forward Paul Stastny make a big impact for the Blues when they face the Capitals?
The Blues are the favorite to win the Central Division. They are coached by one of the best guys with Ken Hitchcock. They are a disciplined physical club who is not afraid to get in the dirty areas of the rink. The Capitals better be ready for a physical affair on Super Bowl Sunday.
April 11 vs. New York Rangers: Last Game of the Regular Season
The last game of the regular season will be a home game against the Metropolitan Division rival New York Rangers. A big two points could be on the line for either of these teams as the regular season concludes.
Both clubs could be jockeying for late playoff positions as the season concludes. The Capitals and Rangers know each other too well as they have been recent playoff opponents numerous times.
It is always a fun exciting match-up when the Rangers and Capitals square off on any ice surface. Could one of these teams possibly play spoiler for the other at the end? This game has some intrigue as the season comes to a close.
Thanks for tuning in!
I am from Virginia. I am covering the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. I love to write and I am a huge sports fanatic – especially hockey. Follow me on Twitter: @Canucksfin56