Among the scheduling oddities in the Capitals’ abbreviated 48-game slate is the rare chance to play consecutive games against the same opponent in the same building.
Similar to a playoff series, the Capitals will host the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center both Thursday night and Saturday afternoon.
“I personally don’t love it like that,” said defenseman Karl Alzner. “I personally like to see different teams. That’s one thing that I didn’t really like [in the AHL] was having to see Wilkes [-Barre Scranton] it seemed like four or five times in two or three weeks.”
Home-and-home series have been a fixture in the NHL since before the Original Six days (the Capitals recently swept a home-and-home series against the Florida Panthers), but two straight matchups in the same city is a rarity. The Capitals last did so in April 2006, with two straight losses at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I think we do it once more this year in Winnipeg,” Joey Crabb noted of the March 22 and 23 meetings with the Jets at MTS Centre.
“But it doesn’t happen too often, it’s a little different. It’s a little bit like how they do it in college and I loved college hockey. I thought that was a fun schedule, it creates rivalries and on the second night, usually everyone is pretty pumped up.”
Wojtek Wolski has played just six career games in the AHL and can’t recall ever facing the same opponent in the same building for two straight regular-season games. Still, Wolski is anxious to see how it plays out.
“Something always seems to happen in that first game that carries over to the second game,” he said.
“Guys don’t really forget. I know guys that have kept grudges for a full year until you play a team the next time and you still remember what happened. So this being two nights after, I’m sure that it’s going to be highly competitive.”
Added Alzner: “I like to have a bit of a change but at the same time it’s good for us and for learning. We get to really test things out against a team that plays the same way as us, so that part is kind of cool. But yeah, the last time I did that was [in January 2010] when we played [the Manitoba Moose], back-to-back on a Friday-Saturday, and that was my second year in the [AHL] so it’s been a while.”