The Washington Capitals open on Broadway this fall. The Caps’ 2006-07 schedule hit the streets today, and the Caps open the campaign against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thu., Oct. 5. Opening night at Verizon Center is Sat. Oct. 7, when the Caps host the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.
This season will mark the first time since 1999-00 that the Capitals will open the season on the road. Washington began that campaign in Florida against the Panthers. The last time the Caps opened the season against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden was on Oct. 10, 1985.
More than half of Washington’s 2006-07 home schedule will be played on weekend dates. The Caps will host 12 Saturday games, seven Friday night games and three Sunday contests.
The Caps will not have any road trips longer than four games, nor will they have any homestands longer than four games, a situation that is rare and ideal. Washington will have only two four-game road trips; it will enjoy four four-game homestands.
The first of those four-game road trips will take place in late October, when the Capitals visit the denizens of the Northwest Division. After making a short one-game jaunt to Minnesota on Oct. 12, the Caps take on the rest of the members of the NHL’s Northwest Division in one four-game trip beginning in Colorado on Wed., Oct. 25 and concluding in Calgary on Mon., Oct. 30. After that date, all of Washington’s remaining 71 games will be played in the Eastern time zone.
Washington’s October home schedule (four games) is made up exclusively of its fellow members of the Southeast Division. Each of the Caps’ first five home games will come against Southeast foes; the first non-Southeast team to invade the Verizon Center will be the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 6.
Washington plays host to the NHL’s Pacific Division this season. The Dallas Stars and former Caps captain Jeff Halpern
visit the Verizon Center on Nov. 30, and the five Pacific foes are scattered between that date and Feb. 21, when the San Jose Sharks come into Washington.
The 2006-07 schedule features a handful of traditional Caps home dates, including the nights before and after Thanksgiving (Atlanta and Toronto, respectively), New Year’s Day afternoon (Phoenix), and a Super Bowl Sunday matinee (New York Islanders).
Washington will play two home-and-home sets of games in 2006-07. After visiting Carolina on Fri., Jan. 26, the two teams will travel north to Washington for a rematch the next night. A month later, the Caps and the New Jersey Devils will play a set of back-to-back matinee tilts for the second time in as many seasons. Washington visits New Jersey on Sat., Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. and the two teams faceoff again exactly 24 hours later at Verizon Center.
Nearly half (38 of 82) of Washington’s schedule will be played as part of back-to-back games.
The Capitals’ greatest concentration of home games comes between Nov. 15 and Dec. 22, when they play 12 games at Verizon Center during a stretch of 17 games. Immediately thereafter, Washington begins the stretch of schedule that contains its greatest concentration of road tilts. From Dec. 23 through Feb. 3, when it will play 12 of its 19 games away from home.
Another new feature of the 2006-07 schedule is 1 p.m. starts for some weekend afternoon home dates. Two of Washington’s Saturday home dates and three Sunday home games feature 1 p.m. faceoff times.