Last week we learned that the Caps will open the 2019-20 season in St. Louis on Oct. 2 when they face the Blues in a battle of the last two Stanley Cup champions, and the NHL also released the date of Washington's home opener, on Oct. 5 against Carolina. Today, the league unveils the full schedule for '19-20, and we get our first look at the Capitals' entire 82-game slate for the upcoming season.
For the first time in 20 years, the Caps will open the season with consecutive road games. After opening against the Blues, they'll head back east to visit the Islanders in New York on Oct. 4, a night before the opener in D.C. Back in 1999-2000, the Caps opened the season with consecutive road games six days apart (Oct. 2 at Florida and Oct. 8 at Buffalo).
Here is a look at some of the highlights and some of the more interesting elements that stood out to us in a first look at the Caps' slate for 2018-19:
- Washington's longest homestand of the season is a four-game run from Feb. 2-10, beginning with a Super Bowl Sunday matinee against Pittsburgh.
- The Caps' longest road trip of the season is five games from Oct. 20-29, a journey that includes their typical late-October jaunt to Western Canada, bookended by visits to Chicago on the way out and Toronto on the way home.
- The Caps will play 12 sets of games on back-to-back nights in 2019-20. Five of those are Friday/Saturday back-to-backs, and all five of those come in the season's first half.
- The Caps will feature traditional home games on the night before American Thanksgiving against Florida (Nov. 27) and the afternoon following against Tampa Bay (Nov. 29).
- Five of the back-to-backs start with a home game and end with a road game; five are the opposite of that format, and the other two involve two road games.
- From Nov. 30 through Dec. 20, the Caps will play seven of nine games on the road.
- From Dec. 23 through Jan. 31, the Caps will play seven road games. All of them are one-game road trips to cities in the Eastern time zone.
- Washington will reach the halfway mark of the season with a New Year's Eve matinee home game against the Islanders.
- From Jan. 5 through Feb. 10, the Caps will play 10 of 14 games at home.
- From Feb. 13 through March 9, Washington will play nine of 13 games on the road.
- The Caps' final Tuesday road game of the season is at San Jose on Dec. 3.
- Washington will play no Sunday or Thursday games in December.
- The Caps' first Thursday night home game of the season is Jan. 16 vs. New Jersey.
- After playing in Minnesota on March 1, the Caps will play final each of the final 17 games on their schedule in Eastern time zone.
- The Caps will play sixteen one-game road trips and nine one-game homestands.
- Last season, for the first time in several years, the Caps played a pair of two-game Manhattan road trips in which they faced both the Rangers and the Islanders on the same trip. Those days are over; they'll take six journeys to the New York metropolitan region to play their six road games against the Devils, Islanders and Rangers. Washington will visit the New York area once a month from Oct.-March.
- In a similar example of puzzling scheduling, the Caps will travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Jan. 27 in their first game following the All-Star break. After a home game against Nashville on Jan. 29, the Caps turn around and head right back north of the border for their second one-game journey to Canada in the same week, this time to face Ottawa on Jan. 31.
- The Caps won't combine trips to Florida, either; they'll make three trips to the Sunshine State to play two games against the Panthers and one against the Lightning.
- Three of Washington's four games vs. Columbus are in December, played in a span of eight games.
- The lone set of home-and-home games is against Winnipeg. The Caps host the Jets on Feb. 25 and head north for their final Canadian road game of the campaign on Feb. 27.
- Washington will travel for seven straight games (one-game road trips alternating with one-game home stops) from Nov. 11-23 and will travel for eight straight games from Dec. 20-Jan. 5.
- The Caps will have three straight days off in October, two instances of three straight days off in November, two instances of three straight off days in December (including the holiday break), an eight-day break in January (bye week/All-Star break) and a three-day gap between games in February. Washington will finish with 28 games in 57 nights after that final three-day break (Feb. 5-7).
- The Caps will be 52 games into the 2019-20 season before they finally face Pittsburgh for first time on Feb. 2, and they will play the Pens four times in a span of 23 games from Feb. 2-March 22. Washington will be finished with their season's series with Boston, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Dallas, Nashville, Calgary, Vancouver, Anaheim and San Jose before facing Pittsburgh for the first time.
- For the fifth time in the last dozen seasons and the second season in a row, the Caps will finish off the road portion of their schedule in Florida against the Panthers.
- The Caps will finish their season's series against the Dallas Stars just six games into the season. Washington hosts Dallas on Oct. 8 and travels to Big D for an Oct. 12 road game.
- Washington will play a dozen matinee dates (seven at home, five on the road), with four of them against Pittsburgh.
- The Caps will face the Devils twice in the same three-game homestand in January, a three-game homestand in which two dates with New Jersey are sandwiched around a home date against Carolina.
By the day:
Sunday: Four at home, three on the road
Monday: Seven at home, six on the road
Tuesday: Seven at home, three on the road
Wednesday: Five at home, five on the road
Thursday: Five at home, six on the road
Friday: Six at home, seven on the road
Saturday: Seven at home, 11 on the road
By the month:
October: Five at home, nine on the road
November: Nine at home, five on the road
December: Five at home, eight on the road
January: Six at home, five on the road
February: Seven at home, five on the road
March: Eight at home, eight on the road
April: One at home, one on the road