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 earlier this month, the Capitals will host and visit every NHL team at least once for the first time since 1997-98.
The countdown wraps up today with the No.1 must-see game of 2013-14.
GAME #1: DECEMBER 23, 2013: CAPITALS VS. ANAHEIM DUCKS
When the Anaheim Ducks last flew to D.C. on Nov. 1, 2011, the Capitals rallied for a spectacular 5-4 win in overtime. While the comeback was impressive, the game is perhaps best remembered for Bruce Boudreau’s benching of Alex Ovechkin late in the third period and Ovechkin’s reaction to said benching.
Less than four weeks later, with the Capitals having lost 8-of-11 overall, Boudreau was fired. The quickest coach in Capitals history to win 200 career games wasn’t out of a job for very long though, joining the Anaheim Ducks the very next day. In December, more than two years since he was fired by the Caps, Boudreau returns to Verizon Center for the first time in the Ducks only visit to D.C. next season. The teams will meet again in Southern California in March.
Boudreau may not have left D.C. under the best of circumstances (what fired coach does?), but he should receive a warm welcome when he returns.
Boudreau was largely responsible for turning the Capitals around during the 2007-08 season when he took over a last place team on Thanksgiving Day, before guiding them to their first Southeast Division title in seven years. Boudreau later received the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year.
The man affectionately known as ‘Gabby’ was among D.C.’s most popular sports figures during his time with the Caps, starring in commercials, throwing out ceremonial first pitches at Nationals Park and even sharing his love of ice cream.
When Boudreau and assistant coach Bob Woods return to the District, they’ll bring with them a pretty decent hockey club.
With the exception of former No.2 pick Bobby Ryan who was traded to the Ottawa Senators in July, the defending Pacific Division champion Ducks return much of the same roster from last season. Captain Ryan Getzlaf and linemate Corey Perry provide Anaheim with one of the best duos in the NHL, and young forwards Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly could be on the verge of breaking out.
It is still not known whether 43-year-old Teemu Selanne will return for another season, but if he does play in 2013-14, the Ducks’ Dec. 23 matchup at Verizon Center may be his final visit to the District.