For the past few weeks Caps fans have known just a fraction of their team’s 2010-11 schedule. In late May the NHL announced that Washington would travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Heinz Field in the 2011 Winter Classic. On Tuesday the remainder of the Capitals’ 82-game slate was revealed.
Washington opens the season Oct. 8 against the Thrashers in Atlanta. It is the fifth straight season in which the Capitals have played their season opener on the road and the third time in the last four seasons that the Caps have started their slate in Atlanta against their Southeast Division rivals, the Thrashers.
The Caps open the season with a set of back-to-back contests, the first of 15 such pairs of games during the campaign. One night after the season opener in Atlanta, the New Jersey Devils come to the District supply the opposition for the Capitals’ home opener Oct. 9.
Washington closes out the season with a home-and-home set with the Florida Panthers, taking on the Cats at Verizon Center April 6 and finishing the slate with an April 9 visit to South Florida.
Among the other highlights of the season’s slate is a Dec. 23 Verizon Center visit from the Penguins. That game – nine days prior to the Winter Classic – is the first meeting of the season between the two old Patrick Division rivals, and it will serve as an appetizer to New Year’s Day’s main course.
Pittsburgh’s second visit to the District will be a Sunday matinee match on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 6. The same two teams played a memorable match on Super Bowl Sunday last February at Verizon Center.
By the time the Caps and Pens meet for the first time, Washington will be all finished with its four-game regular-season slate with the Boston Bruins. The Caps and B’s play a home-and-home set in October and finish up their season’s slate against one another Dec. 18 when the Caps visit Beantown.
For the first time in many years, the Caps will not host a home contest the night before Thanksgiving. Washington will be in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes on that Wednesday night, but the Caps will come back immediately after that game and they’ll play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a special 5 p.m. start time on the Friday immediately after Turkey Day.
The Capitals will play 23 home games in the season’s first half. They’ll get through October and November without a road trip or a homestand of more than three games in length before hosting a season-long homestand of four games from Dec. 4-11. Washington’s longest gap without a game of any kind comes during the final five days of January during the NHL’s All-Star break.
Washington has a five-game road trip – starting in Phoenix and finishing in Pittsburgh – in a span of just eight days in February, but it will leave the Eastern time zone just once the rest of the season after returning from that journey. The Capitals play six straight games on the road in March, starting and finishing that stretch with visits to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. Washington will return home for a day or two midway through that March road stretch.
Three Western Conference clubs will face Washington twice in 2010-11, once at home and once on the road. Those three clubs are Anaheim, San Jose and St. Louis.
The Colorado Avalanche will be the first Western club to visit Verizon when they hit town Dec. 11. Ex-Caps winger Joe Sacco is the Avs’ bench boss. The highlight visit of the Western teams will take place on March 13 when the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks come to town for a nationally televised Sunday afternoon game.
The New York Rangers will be the last Eastern Conference club to visit Verizon Center next season. The Blueshirts won’t make their first trek to the District until Jan. 24 when they supply the opposition for Washington’s final home game prior to the All-Star break. By the time the Rangers hit D.C. for the first time in 2010-11, the Capitals will have already made both of their trips to the Big Apple.
Three of Washington’s 15 sets of back-to-back games will be played in a span of 11 days in mid-February. Nine of the back-to-backs feature two road games on consecutive nights.
The Capitals will play 38 of their 82 games on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Nineteen of those games will be played at Verizon Center and nineteen will be played on the road.
By The Numbers: Monday: Seven games, three at home and four on the road Tuesday: 15 games, eight at home and seven on the road Wednesday: 13 games, six at home and seven on the road Thursday: nine games, five at home and four on the road Friday: 10 games, five at home and five on the road Saturday: 17 games, eight at home and nine on the road Sunday: 11 games, six at home and five on the road.
October: 11 games, five at home and six on the road November: 14 games, nine at home and five on the road December: 14 games, eight at home and six on the road January: 12 games, five at home and seven on the road February: 12 games, five at home and seven on the road March: 15 games, seven at home and eight on the road April: Four games, two at home and two on the road