Late Saturday night, while the whole city was having a good long party, hockey returned to the District of Columbia. The Caps released their short 48-game schedule – games played in just 98 days – and announced that the team would be holding events leading up to the home opener on the 22nd.
Included in the events the team announced – events the team needs to hold to win back even just the homeliest sliver of good will from a fanbase abused by the lockout – are an open practice on the 17th with free concessions (excluding alcohol), and giveaways at WashingtonCaps.com. These are but the least of the Caps worries at the moment as they face a whirlwind of travel this season, as well as a division stacked with talent.
They begin home play at Verizon Center on January 22nd, and single game tickets went on sale today ahead of the short 24-game home season. Some highlights if you want a great matchup: Superbowl Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, March 5th against the Boston Bruins, or back-to-back games against the conference champs in late February. For those wanting blowouts, the Leafs are through in February and April, and I would grab both games.
Early news from the Caps has been good, but with some question marks. Specifically, there are concerns around the health of Alternate Captain Brooks Laich, who is day-to-day with a lower body injury of an undisclosed nature. Also in question is Nick Backstrom, who sustained what appears to be a neck injury during KHL play. Both could miss playing time, but much is still unknown about both situations.