April 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) and Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) take to the ice prior to game three of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
A few thoughts on this year's campaign:
- The Caps will play just twelve sets of back-to-back games this year, with five sets coming in the first half of the season and seven in the second half.
- One of those back-to-back games will come in mid-February, when the Caps make their annual pilgrimage to the West Coast for some Pacific Division battles (including a visit to the Stanley Cup Champs).
- Speaking of the Kings, the Caps get a double dose of LA this season - along with Dallas and Nashville - and will face the defending Champs here in DC on Super Bowl Sunday.
- And speaking of pilgrimages, the Caps will only have six road trips that stretch over more than two games - with just one lasting more than three games, a four-game swing at the end of October that will see the Caps face off against Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary and the Minnesota Wild.
- Of course a choppy road schedule also means a choppy (some would say balanced) home schedule, with just one lengthy home stand in December.
- Home games the day after Thanksgiving have become something of a tradition around here, but the Caps will actually be on the road on Friday, November 23 when they pay a visit to the Dallas Stars. Guess those day-after turkey sandwiches will need to be packed up in Tupperware this time around.
- Another tradition - albeit a slightly stranger (and potentially more random) one - has been a meeting with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in DC. In fact, since the lockout the Caps and Thrashers/Jets have met four of the last six Thanksgiving Eves, with this year set to be the fifth of seven when the Jets come to town November 22.
- The first meeting with an opponent from the 2012 playoffs won't happen until almost a month into the season, when the big bad Bruins come to town on November 2. The first Rangers meeting happens two weeks later.
- Last year the Caps got all four always-entertaining bouts with the Penguins out of the way before the calendar flipped from 2011 to 2012; this year the Caps will face off against Pittsburgh and old pal Tomas Vokoun for the fourth and final time (in the regular season, at least) in the last week of the season, heading up to the 'Burgh for a Sunday evening tilt on April 7. Oh, and if anyone wants to spend New Year's Eve up there, feel free...
- After returning from their West Coast swing on February 16, the Caps will only leave the Eastern time zone one more time before the end of the season - to visit their division rivals in Winnipeg March 22.
- As has become tradition, the Caps will face division rivals in each of their last two games, hosting the Hurricanes on April 11 and the Lightning April 13, with three of their final six games of the season coming against the Southeast.
- Breakdown by day (because you know you're curious): 9 Sunday, 6 Monday, 14 Tuesday, 9 Wednesday, 14 Thursday, 11 Friday and 18 Saturday. And for you early risers, the Caps will play 6 games with a (scheduled) start time of 3:00 or earlier. Huzzah.