Forty years to the day after they started their NHL voyage, the Washington Capitals will open the 2014-15 NHL season – their 39th campaign in the league – at Verizon Center against the Montreal Canadiens on Thu. Oct. 9. Washington’s home and season opener for the ’14-15 season comes exactly four decades after the Caps played the first game in their NHL history, a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 9, 1974.
In the most anticipated game on the 2014-15 slate, the Caps host the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 1 in the 2015 Winter Classic at a venue to be named later.
After playing 48 games in a span of just 99 nights during the lockout-abbreviated 2012-13 season and following up with another condensed schedule in 2013-14 to accommodate the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, the Caps will play 82 games over a much more leisurely 185-day span. The Caps play on an average of once every 2.26 days in 2014-15 as compared to once every 2.06 days in 2013-14.
Here are some random observations after a first look at Washington’s 2014-15 slate:
The longest homestand is a five-game run at Verizon Center from March 5-15 that features visits from Minnesota, Buffalo, the New York Rangers, Dallas and Boston.
The longest road trip is a four-game journey to San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Pittsburgh from Feb. 11-17.
The Capitals play two of their fellow Metropolitan Division denizens five times and the others four times. Washington plays five games in 2014-15 against the Columbus Blue Jackets (two home, three road) and five against the New Jersey Devils (three home, two road).
Washington faces the Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers four times in 2014-15. The first of those meetings is in New York on Dec. 23 and the last three meetings come in the final 15 games of the season. Both of Washington’s visits to Manhattan will be the second of games on back-to-back dates for the Capitals.
Washington’s only set of home-and-home games with an opponent is against the New York Islanders. The two games are sandwiched around Thanksgiving Day; the Caps visit the Isles on Wed. Nov. 26 and they host New York two days later.
The Caps face New Jersey four times between Oct. 16 and Dec. 20, then don’t play the Devils again until March 26.
Washington doesn’t face the Philadelphia Flyers until Jan. 8. The Caps will have already finished their season series of three games each against Atlantic Division foes Tampa Bay and Florida before facing the Flyers for the first time.
Seven of Washington’s first nine road games are against Western Conference opponents. When the Caps return from a three-game trip to St. Louis, Phoenix and Colorado after facing the Avs on Nov. 20, they will have already played half of their 14 Western Conference road games for the season.
During the first half of the season, the Caps have no more than three straight games at home or on the road. The Caps finish off the first half of the season with a Saturday night home game against Detroit on Jan. 10.
Nine of the Capitals’ 12 games leading up to their Jan. 1 Winter Classic date with Chicago will be played on the road. From Nov. 15 through Dec. 29, the Caps play a total of 20 games and 14 of them are on the road.
The Capitals will play 16 sets of games on back-to-back nights. They’ll play seven Sunday matinee games (three at home and four on the road) and five Saturday matinees (three at home and two on the road). The Caps close out the campaign with a Saturday afternoon home game against the Rangers on April 11. Additionally, the Caps’ Sunday home game against Boston is a “flex” game that could either be played at 12:30 or 7:30.
The Caps come out of the all-star break with seven games in 11 nights from Jan. 27 through Feb. 6. They’ll play three sets of back-to-back games in that 11-day stretch.
Washington will host its virtually annual Super Bowl Sunday matinee on Feb. 1 at Verizon Center, with the St. Louis Blues in town to supply the opposition.
Games by the Month
October: 9 (five home, four road)
November: 14 (seven home, seven road)
December: 13 (four home, nine road)
January: 13 (seven home, six road)
February: 14 (seven home, seven road)
March: 14 (nine home, five road)
April: 5 (two home, three road)
Games by the Day
Sunday: 11 (six home, five road)
Monday: 4 (two home, two road)
Tuesday: 14 (seven home, seven road)
Wednesday: 10 (six home, four road)
Thursday: 14 (seven home, seven road)
Friday: 7 (four home, three road)
Saturday: 22 (nine home, 13 road)