Washington Capitals: Schedule Released, 5 Games to Look Forward To

Matt SchreiberAnalyst IIIJanuary 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 16:  Alexander Semin #28 celebrates with Alex Ovechkin #8, Brooks Laich #21, and Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins in the first period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The NHL lockout is officially over and the Washington Capitals road to the cup begins on January 19.

The Capitals finished the 2011-12 season at 42-32-8, which was good enough for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs but lost to the New York Rangers in seven games in Round 2.

The addition of Mike Ribeiro gives them much more depth at center, and perhaps losing Alexander Semin to the Carolina Panthers will eliminate the team's poor efforts on offense.

Here are five games to look forward to during the 2013 NHL season for Washington Capitals fans:


1. Saturday, January 19, at Tampa Bay Lightning @ 7 p.m. EST

The Washington Capitals will open their 2013 season on the road against the same team who swept them 4-0 in the 2010-11 playoffs. Alex Ovechkin will face off against reigning Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos. I am predicting Ovechkin will get the better of the matchup and light the lamp twice in the season opener.

The Capitals will get their season off on the right foot with a nice win on the road.


2. Sunday, February 3, vs. Pittsburgh Penguins @ 12:30 p.m. EST

No matter what anyone says, Ovechkin vs. Crosby is the best rivalry in hockey. It has long been debated which guy is better on the ice. If you ask me, they have two completely different playing styles, and you really cannot compare the two.

If you want to make comparisons, Crosby can't lay the wood like Ovechkin can, but Crosby has hoisted the Cup, while Ovechkin has not. This will be the first of three matchups between the two rivals.


3. Sunday, February 17, at New York Rangers @ 7:30 p.m. EST

The Capitals will get a quick opportunity to avenge the team that ended their season early in 2012. New York brings a new face to the ice in sniper Rick Nash. The Rangers are preseason favorites to win the cup in my mind, but the Capitals have the firepower to stick it to them and get in their way.


4. Tuesday, February 26, vs. Carolina Hurricanes @ 7 p.m. EST

The Capitals will have their first look at the Staal brothers, Jordan and Eric, playing on the same team. Jordan joined Eric in the offseason in Carolina, which makes Carolina an instant threat to challenge the Capitals for the Southeast Division crown.

This will also be the Capitals' first look at Alexander Semin in another uniform. Man, that is going to be interesting to see. This will be the first of five games between the division rivals.


5. Tuesday, March 5, vs. Boston Bruins @ 7 p.m. EST

This showdown brings a rematch of the 2012 opening round of the playoffs where the Capitals defeated the Bruins in seven games. The Capitals will look to continue their recent domination of the Bruins with the first of three games against Boston. The Caps will also end their season against the Bruins at home on April 27.