Nights Like These - On Wednesday night in D.C., the Caps opened their 82-game regular season - and a three-game homestand - with a memorable and resounding 5-1 victory over the visiting New York Rangers.
Just over a year shy of its 25th birthday, the big barn on F St. has seen its share of sorrowful and joyful nights over its lifespan. Wednesday's Capitals season opener against the New York Rangers fell firmly into the latter category.
When the Capitals opened up their pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season some nine months ago, they did so under some trying circumstances - as did every NHL team - but the Caps' situation was slightly more complicated because of having a new face behind the team's bench. Washington coach Peter Laviolette was hired roughly four months earlier - in September of 2020 - at a time when no one knew when or even if the '20-21 campaign would get underway.
Back In The Saddle Again - Last season, NHL arenas were bereft of that palpable pregame buzz in the moments between the end of warmups and the dropping of the puck. Once the games got underway, it was more of the same. Buildings were eerily quiet aside from the sounds of the game itself, the bodies and pucks and sticks and skates, the hollers and the whistles.
Throughout their 2021 training camp, the Caps have been adjusting to life without Nicklas Backstrom. Now down to the final hours of that camp and with Wednesday's season opener looming on the horizon, the team took the ice for a Sunday morning practice session without both Backstrom and captain Alex Ovechkin.
Wrap It Up - The Caps concluded their 2021 exhibition season on Friday night at Capital One Arena with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington finished the preseason at 2-3-1, collecting victories in each of its last two games, the two games in which it dressed its most representative roster.
As far as preseason games go, Friday's exhibition finale between the Caps and the Philadelphia Flyers was a feisty and lively affair, and one that should suffice as a last tune-up for Washington ahead of its season opener on Wednesday against the New York Rangers. After letting a 2-0 second-period lead slip away, the Caps rallied in the third and skated away with a 5-3 victory.
Last Dance - The Caps and Flyers meet up on Friday night in the District for one last preseason tilt before the real deal rolls around next week. The two teams met last Saturday in Philadelphia with the Flyers prevailing by a 3-1 count.