With single-game tickets now on sale, CSNWashington.com is counting down the top 10 must-see Capitals games in 2013-14 (the countdown includes both home and away games).
As colleague Brian McNally noted last week, the Capitals will host and visit every NHL team at least once for the first time since 1997-98.
GAME #10: MARCH 25, 2014 CAPITALS VS. LOS ANGELES KINGS
To say that the Kings have gone more than two years since their last visit to D.C. would be inaccurate. Sure the Kings last skated at Verizon Center on Feb. 12, 2011, but the 2012 Stanley Cup champions returned to Washington last March to meet the President.
Successful teams (and sometimes even their American goalies) have been known to visit the White House after winning the Stanley Cup and the Kings are among the preseason favorites to hoist Lord Stanley’s mug again in 2014. Their return trip to Chinatown in March is worth circling.
When the Capitals and Kings faceoff in late March for the second time in six days (they meet March 20 at Staples Center) both teams will likely be in the thick of a playoff race with much on the line. Besides the Capitals and Kings, only six other teams have qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the last four seasons (Penguins, Bruins, Blackhawks, Canucks, Sharks and Red Wings).
The Kings visit D.C. exactly 30 days after the gold medal game at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov look to lead the host Russians to Olympic gold in 2014, Kings captain Dustin Brown and starting goalie Jonathan Quick will look to do the same for the Americans. Russia and the U.S. are both in Group A in the preliminary round and meet in Sochi on Feb. 15. It’s possible that they could meet again in the medal round as well.
Quick, the projected No.1 goalie for the U.S., won the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as NHL playoff MVP in 2012 and led the league with 10 shutouts that same season.
Quick’s only game at Verizon Center came during his rookie season on Feb. 5, 2009 when he stopped 41 of 45 shots in a 5-4 Los Angeles win.
And of course, a visit from the Kings could mean the return of former Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz. Schultz appeared in 399 career games with the Capitals from 2006-2013 but was a healthy scratch for much of the past two seasons.
The first-round pick (27th overall, 2004) became a popular whipping boy for much of the Capitals fan base and requested a trade last March. He eventually signed a one-year deal with the Kings in July after having the final year of his contract bought out by the Capitals.