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Washington Hosts Chicago in Home Opener on Oct. 11

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will face the Chicago Blackhawks in their home opener at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Verizon Center, one day after opening the season at Atlanta, the NHL announced today. The league also announced the Capitals will play two games each against Western Conference opponents Columbus, Los Angeles and Nashville during the season.

The Capitals will raise their 2007-08 Southeast Division championship banner prior to their home opener.

This is the second time in club history that Washington will host Chicago for its home opener, as the Blackhawks made the trip to D.C. on Oct. 5, 1996, and won 5-2. The Capitals are 17-14-2-0 in home openers. Washington is 33-38-11-1 all-time against Chicago, but owns a 20-15-5-1 record at home against the Blackhawks.

The three finalists for the 2008 Calder Trophy should be on the ice for the matchup and the goaltending pairings could provide some interesting storylines as well. Chicago’s Patrick Kane edged Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom last year for rookie of the year honors, as Kane’s teammate Jonathan Toews finished third.

Both teams could introduce new goaltenders during the game. Washington signed former Hart Trophy and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore during the off-season, and Chicago signed Cristobal Huet, who will return to Verizon Center after helping backstop the Capitals to a Southeast Division title last season.

The NHL tweaked the overall schedule this year so teams would play their divisional rivals only six times instead of eight, which had been customary the past three seasons. In doing so, every team in the league will play one another this year and teams will also play three non-conference opponents at home and on the road. Washington’s three non-conference opponents that they will play twice are Columbus, Los Angeles and Nashville.

The Capitals entire 2008-09 schedule will be released tomorrow, July 17.
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