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Game-By-Game Reasons To Watch: January

We previously gave you reasons to watch every Caps game in October, November and December. Here's why you should watch the games on the slate for January:

Jan. 1 vs. Tampa Bay: The Caps are 13-5-3-1 in their traditional New Year's Day game, including a 6-3 comeback win against Ottawa on 1/1/08 and a 5-5 tie (thanks to a pair of Mike Ridley tallies) with the Bolts the only time these teams have met on this day, back in 1994.

Jan. 3 vs. N.Y. Rangers: It's raining Swedes (hallelujah!) as Nicklas Backstrom and Michael Nylander host Henrik Lundqvist, Markus Naslund and Fredrik Sjostrom.

Jan. 6 vs. Philadelphia: Hey, did you know the Caps and Flyers met in the first round of the playoffs way back in April? It's true! Video evidence (and a reminder of just how much you hate the Orange and Black):

Jan. 9 vs. Columbus: Presumably, this will be Columbus sans Bill McCreary:

Jan. 10 @ Montreal: The only time Carey Price has faced the Caps (January 5, 2008), he gave up five goals in an overtime loss (with the game-winner courtesy of Game Over). After the game, the AP asked "Who is Mike Green?" to which Bruce Boudreau responded, "I'm getting that question asked an awful lot lately and pretty soon he's going to be pretty well known." On a sidenote, check out Tomas Fleischmann on the game-winner... more, please.

Jan. 13 vs. Edmonton: Fans endured a 12-round shootout the last time these two teams got together (which Matt Bradley won for the Caps after "He just said, 'I'm going to score, put me out there,' and he jumped over the board and he went in," according to Boudreau), but the story here may be the first head-to-head matchup between the numbers five and six picks in the 2007 Draft, Karl Alzner and Sam Gagner, whom the Caps passed over to take King Karl.

Jan. 14 @ Pittsburgh: On my birthday (and this is a friendly reminder to order now for anything that might take five months to arrive/customize/build), the Caps find themselves in Pittsburgh, where for the second consecutive game there will be some amount of attention paid to a guy the Caps drafted with a high pick and the player taken with the very next pick.

Jan. 17 vs. Boston: Continuing the theme, back in the 2006 Draft, the Caps picked Nicklas Backstrom with the fourth pick, right before the Bruins nabbed Phil Kessel (and I have no idea how I'd never seen this before, but it's amazing footage, even if the audio and video aren't in sync). Kessel has 66 points and a minus-18 rating in 152 NHL games. Backstrom has three more points and a plus-13 rating in 70 fewer games. Point: GMGM. Big.

Jan. 19 @ N.Y. Islanders: Rick DiPietro has faced Alex Ovechkin 10 times so far in their careers, and they're both signed with their respective teams through the 2020-21 season, meaning that they could face each other another 52 times wearing the same colors. So far, DiPi has had Alex's number, as the Great Eight has just four goals and an assist in the ten games and DiPietro owns a career 9-3-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .925 save percentage against the Caps.

Jan. 20 @ Ottawa: The Caps are 7-2-0 in their last nine games against the Sens (after being winless in their previous eight) and have outscored Ottawa 37-25. The second game in the current run was the one in which Ottawa jumped out to a 3-0 lead, allegedly mocked Ovechkin and the Caps, and wound up losing 4-3 in overtime. Coincidence? I doubt it. Whether or not the Sens did, in fact, laugh at Ovie and his mates is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Ovechkin (much like Michael Jordan was famous for doing) found an added source of motivation, and has responded with nine goals and eight assists in the seven-plus games since.

Jan. 27 @ Boston: On March 3, 2004, the Caps traded Sergei Gonchar to the Bruins for Shaone Morrisonn and the picks that turned into Jeff Schultz and Mikhail Yunkov. A day later, the Caps sent Michael Nylander to the B's for a couple of picks that turned into Francois Bouchard and Patrick McNeill. On February 1, 2007, the Caps acquired Milan Jurcina from Boston for a conditional pick. The Chowdaheadz must really despise GMGM.

Jan. 31 vs. Detroit: The Caps showed they could play with the Wings at the Joe in December of last season, getting a game-tying goal from Alex Semin with 1:34 left in the third only to lose in a shootout in which Olie Kolzig was thoroughly embarrassed (three goals on three backhanders, you'll recall). The last time the Caps beat Detroit in D.C. was on Halloween, 2000, and that is the only home win for the Caps in the series since January 30, 1994 (1-9-1, including the playoffs). So, um, Washington's due.

Game of the Month: Bring on the Champs.