The Washington Capitals are heading outdoors for the first time since 2018.
We already knew that the Carolina Hurricanes would be hosting a Stadium Series game next season at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, but now we know who their opponent will be, and it’s a solid choice by the NHL.
Unlike the league’s decision to award the Winter Classic to the Boston Bruins in 2023, the decision to pit the Capitals against the Hurricanes next season is a good one. The biggest difference in the selections is that while Boston has played outdoors twice since 2019, the Caps have not done so since they hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Stadium Series contest in 2018.
This could be one of the last chances for the NHL to make Washington a part of an event like this before the team inevitably ages out of relevance. Until it does that, it’s great to get a team that features Alex Ovechkin on the national stage. Overall, this will be the fourth time that Ovi and the Capitals have played outdoors.
The NHL made a good call by sending the Capitals outdoors.
So, it’s good to have a team like the Capitals in one of the league’s marquee events, but what does the selection mean for the game’s matchup?
To start, it sort of has a changing-of-the-guard feeling to it, as the Hurricanes will eventually, if they haven’t already, overtake the Capitals as an elite team in the Eastern Conference. Further, playoff history could make this an intriguing matchup.
Yes, the Hurricanes’ Game 7 victory over the Caps in 2019 isn’t exactly current news, but it helped bolster a rivalry that, outside of the 2021 COVID-realigned season, has divisional ties and that has become more relevant in the last handful of seasons.
It’s also one that has a geographical component to it. Not to mention, by the time this game is played next February, it will most likely have significant playoff implications for two teams that figure to be in the race for the postseason again next year.
That’s only fitting, as it is entirely possible that these two foes could see one another in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which would be the perfect way to lead into next year’s Stadium Series game. In fact, if the season ended today, they would indeed face off in the first round.
We’ll see plenty of the Canes and Caps between now and next season’s outdoor matchup, which is just part of the reason that the NHL made a great choice by choosing Washington as Carolina’s opponent.