The Washington Capitals will experience firsthand the spoils of Stanley Cup playoff success when they open their 2013-14 season Oct. 1 at the reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Adam Oates’ squad can only hope the usual banner-raising and other festivities at United Center will serve as motivation heading into a full 82-game schedule that will have a much different look and feel than in recent years.
NHL realignment means the Capitals are now part of the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division along with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets, giving them more natural rivals than in the old Southeast Division.
And after a lockout-shortened year in which teams played only within their own conferences, the new scheduling gives each team at least one game in all 30 NHL arenas per season. So the Capitals will head back to the West Coast for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign, starting with a late-October Canadian swing that includes games at Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Washington’s home opener at Verizon Center will be Oct. 3 against the Flames, and after a quick trip to Dallas, the Caps will return for a five-game homestand featuring the Hurricanes, Avalanche, Oilers, Rangers and Blue Jackets.
The Caps will play on Super Bowl Sunday for the fourth time in five seasons, hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 12:30 p.m. to give fans time to get home for the big game.
The NHL will go on hiatus from Feb. 9-25 to allow the league’s players to compete in the Sochi Olympics. That deal was finalized Friday, prompting the release of NHL schedules for the upcoming season.
The Caps will conclude the regular season with a pair of home dates, April 11 against the Blackhawks and April 13 against the Lightning.
The full schedule is below, with all times Eastern:
Tue, Oct. 1 at Chicago 8 p.m.
Thu, Oct. 3 Calgary 7 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 5 at Dallas 8 p.m.
Thu, Oct. 10 Carolina 7 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 12 Colorado 7 p.m.