The NHL has released the full regular season schedule for the 2017-18 season. While the Washington Capitals have a lot of work to do before October, here are a few intriguing match ups to look forward to.
The NHL offseason is in full swing. With the highly anticipated expansion draft over and free agency looming, the Washington Capitals will begin to gear up for their 43rd season in franchise history. While no drastic changes are expected, the Caps lineup will certainly have a different look to it come October. And with the full schedule recently released, Capitals fans won’t have to wait much longer for the start of the regular season.
Finding a replacement for Nate Schmidt on defense seems to have risen to the top of the priority list. Already tight against the salary cap, it will be interesting to see what direction the team goes in the rest of the summer. No matter what changes are (or are not) made, the team will be expected to finish high in the standings yet again.
Ultimately, and as always, the Caps will only be judged based on how they perform in the postseason. While a third straight Presidents’ Trophy is not the goal, the Caps will need to compete night in and night out to send the league (and possibly themselves) the message that their Stanley Cup window is not yet closed. These match ups have potential to be the most entertaining of the year for the Caps, and will also serve as measuring stick games for this years squad.
October 11, 2017 – Pittsburgh Penguins at Capitals.
Eliminated in the second round each of the last two seasons at the hands of the Penguins, the Caps will look to get some revenge on their biggest rival during their first meeting of the season. Washington has seen regular season success against the Pens recently, finishing 2-0-2 against them last year. They will need to keep that up to compete in an always tight Metropolitan Division.
December 2, 2017 – Columbus Blue Jackets at Capitals
The Columbus Blue Jackets are an up and coming team in the division. Finishing with a franchise high 108 points in 2016-17, the Blue Jackets will look to build on that success. They put themselves on the league map when they won 16 straight games spanning from late November to early January. The Capitals ended that streak at 16 with force, defeating Columbus by a score of 5-0. It would not be surprising to see Columbus establish themselves as a bonafide Caps rival in 2017-18.
December 23, 2017 – Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights
This will be the Caps first ever visit to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to face the Golden Knights. While there have been rumors of Vegas using a number of their newly selected defensemen as trade bait, fans can assume that it will also be Schmidt’s first time suiting up opposite the Caps as well.
Every two points matter, and it will be important to collect a win against a team not expected to compete much in their first year. However, Vegas goaltender and old foe Marc-Andre Fleury, who has tormented the Caps in the past as a member of the Penguins, might have something to say about that.
March 3, 2018 – 2018 Coors Light Stadium Series
The Caps are set to play in their third outdoor game in franchise history after winning both of their previous two. Their first came against the Penguins in 2011, while their second came against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. The competition in these special event games is always great, and the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland will provide a great atmosphere. The Caps saw first hand what the Leafs are capable of during the 2017 postseason, so improving to 3-0 outdoors will not be an easy task.