It is finally here, hockey fans! The start of the Washington Capitals 2012-13 regular season is just hours away! Here is the pertinent information you need to know before the Capitals begin their season in Tampa tonight against the Lightning.
The Washington Capitals will open the 2012-13 regular-season schedule tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals earned their fifth-consecutive playoff berth last season, finishing the regular season with a record of 42-32-8 (92 points). Washington went on to eliminate the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in seven games before falling to the New York Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Last season the Capitals went 3-2-1 against Tampa Bay, earning all three victories at Verizon Center. Three of the six contests required overtime to be decided with one of those three going to a shootout.
NOTE OF THE NIGHT
A new start – For the first time since the 2002-03 season and just the fourth time in franchise history (1978-79, 1997-98 and 2002-03), the Capitals will open a season with a new head coach. Adam Oates is poised to make his NHL head coaching debut tonight in Tampa Bay after becoming the 16th head coach in franchise history this off-season. Washington is 3-0-0-0 in season openers with a new head coach, winning two of those three contests on the road.
Top Five Caps Facts
Familiar faces – Adam Oates played in 387 games with Washington and becomes the fourth head coach to have also played for the Capitals during his career. Dale Hunter appeared in 872 games for the Capitals from 1987-99. Roger Crozier, head coach for one game during the 1981-82 season, played in three games for the Caps in 1976-77 while Terry Murray, head coach for 325 games from 1990-1994, appeared in 74 games with Washington during the 1981-82 season.
Kicking things off – The Washington Capitals will be opening their NHL regular-season schedule on the road for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when they dropped a 4-2 contest in Atlanta. Washington is 18-17-2 in season openers all-time and 7-3-0 in its last 10 season openers.
New kids on the block – Several players are scheduled to make their Capitals debut this season. The next game played for Mike Ribeiro, Joey Crabb, Wojtek Wolski and Jack Hillen will mark their first as a Washington Capital.
Back in D.C. – Both Capitals assistant coaches are returning to the franchise after previous stints in Washington. Calle Johansson was a defenseman for the Capitals and holds the record for the most games played as a Capital, appearing in 983 games from 1989-2003. Tim Hunter is back for his second stint as an assistant coach in D.C. Hunter has coached 1,041 games in an assistant role during his 13-season NHL coaching career, including five years behind the Washington bench (1997-2002).
Fireworks – Only four players have recorded multiple 50-goal seasons since 2005-06. Alex Ovechkin has collected four 50-goal seasons during that time period while Steven Stamkos has two. Ovechkin has registered 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) in 47 career games against Tampa Bay while Stamkos has recorded 20 points (13 goals, seven assists) in 24 career games against Washington.