The 2009-2010 NHL schedule came out yesterday, and there is enough commentary on it to suit most any Caps fan. Still, there was one thing about it that struck us as interesting. And it goes back to last year. You will recall that in the dying weeks of the 2008-2009 regular season, the Caps beat up a lot of tomato cans (it’s a boxing reference… look it up). For example, the Caps played 19 games from March 1st through the end of the regular season, and during that time…
- Five of the 19 games were against playoff-bound teams.
- They played playoff-bound teams in consecutive games only once (Philadelphia and Carolina on March 12th and March 14th).
- They played a playoff-bound team only once after March 14th (Carolina on March 21st), none in their last eight games.
- Of the five games played against playoff-bound teams, three of them were against Carolina. The other teams faced were Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
- The Caps were 2-2-1 against those five playoff-bound teams.
- Of their last 12 games, the Caps played lottery teams (bottom five in the league) seven times.
It wasn’t the highest caliber competition for the Caps heading into the post season. Did it play a role in what some might consider an early exit? We can’t say for sure, but what we can say is that it should not be a factor this season. The Caps will play 20 games from March 1st through the end of the regular season. Of that number…
- 11 will be played against playoff teams from 2008-2009.
- Twice they will play three playoff teams from last year in succession (Pittsburgh/Carolina/Calgary from March 24th-28th and Columbus/Boston/Pittsburgh from April 3rd-6th).
- In their last ten games, the Caps will play playoff teams from a year ago seven times.
- Of the 11 games against playoff teams, the Caps will play Carolina three times. The other eight are against teams outside the Southeast and include the Stanley Cup champion Penguins twice and Eastern Conference regular season leader Boston twice.
- The Caps will have five games against lottery teams, but two are against Atlanta (which gave the Caps problems last year), and the other three are against Tampa Bay.
It is a schedule made for preparing the Capitals for a playoff run…
… or for elimination from the playoffs.
It won’t lack for interest.