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Capitals could deal with small highs and lows during cyclical 2011-12 season

Oct 1, 2011, 5:30 PM EDT

greenvokoun AP

With the 2011-12 season rapidly approaching, the gang at PHT decided to take a look at all 30 NHL teams’ schedules. Each team’s highs and lows will be studied in detail to give you an idea of what the future might hold for each squad.

Note: Mileage figures via On the Forecheck’s “Super Schedule.”

Washington Capitals schedule analysis

Total mileage: 37,969 (10th lowest in the NHL, least in the Southeast)

Back-to-back games: 13

Toughest stretches

The Capitals’ schedule almost seems broken up into segments of mostly home runs and mostly away stretches, making it difficult to pinpoint too many huge streaks. For the most part, there are a lot of little periods that are easier or tougher.

That being said, there are two long runs that seem a little more difficult than others.

Mid-October to mid-November is one of the most challenging periods. They play four of five games on the road to kick things off, alternate a home game, road game and home contest and then are visitors three consecutive times.

Again, every month seems to have its quirks, but one of the standout strings comes from Jan. 18 to Feb. 4. The Caps play six of seven games on the road, with five contests against 2011 playoff teams. After a five-in-six run in February, the last significant stretch comes in March, where they play six of seven away from home again.

Easiest periods

The Capitals play four of their first five regular season games at the Verizon Center. Late November to early December represents a nice opportunity, as Washington plays six of seven at home. January includes a four-game homestand while February features four of five games at home.

March includes a six of seven at-home streak as well as a four-of-five run.

Overall outlook

The Capitals’ schedule is staggered, which might encourage cyclical highs and lows. That being said, they’re a genuine Stanley Cup contender, so it’s likely that they might defy the games in front of them. The schedule’s advantages and disadvantages would become more pronounced if the team suffers serious injuries, though.

Their travel schedule is in the bottom third of the NHL and their back-to-back sets are at a reasonable 13. Forgive the Caps a lull or two (surely someone somewhere will use a schedule-related slump as evidence of a lack of intangibles), but they shouldn’t find themselves in too many rough patches – or gold mines – next season.

  1. watermelon1 - Oct 1, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    All they have to do is make the playoffs. They’ve proven it doesn’t really matter what seed you get. All that matters is if they can finally play some defense, and score on their power play when it counts. If they can score when Ovechkin is stacked against and is forced to give the puck up. I think they had one of the better offseasons, especially for the East.

  2. capsrockva - Oct 2, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    I would be fine with a #2,3, 4 or 5th seed. I don’t want them to be the 1st seed again

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