Dec. 2 vs. Florida: The last time the Caps and Panthers played was the last game of the regular season for both teams, and the Caps had a simple goal in mind. Here's how things turned out:
Dec. 4 vs. N.Y. Islanders: The Isles took three of four from the Caps last season, and the one game the Caps managed to win was due in large part to the heroic efforts of Olie Kolzig, who ends his Caps career with a 26-10-2 record (tied for the most wins he has against any club), a 2.31 goals against average and a .910 save percentage against the Isles. Kolzig's replacement, Jose Theodore, has a career 12-9-1 record against New York, but a stellar 1.89 GAA and .936 save percentage, so look for the Caps to regain the ownership of the Islanders that carried them to a 34-9-3 record in head-to-head meetings from January 27, 1995 through April 7, 2006.
Dec. 6 @ Toronto: Ron Wilson is 4-0 against the Caps since being relieved of his duties in D.C. and is 7-2-1 all-time as a head coach against the Caps, including an active seven-game winning streak. That's gotta end sometime, no?
Dec. 7 @ Carolina: Hey, Carolina again. The Caps have more hat tricks (8) against Carolina/Hartford than against any other team in the League other than Philly (9), but Alex Semin is the only current Cap to turn the trick against the 'Canes as a Cap.
Dec. 10 vs. Boston: Given that the Caps dropped a dime on the B's in one game last year, Donald Brashear dropped Shane Hnidy in another, and Milan Lucic dropped Brian Pothier in yet another, the game is a good bet to produce something of note. Let's just hope Chris Rooney isn't calling this one. Here's a reminder of what the Caps' offense can do on an "on" night:
Dec. 12 vs. Ottawa: Martin Gerber has a 3.61 GAA and .864 career save percentage against the Caps, but throw out last year's 9.13/.730 and... it's still 2.86/.888.
Dec. 13 @ Montreal: Expect the Canadien faithful to ride Theodore all night as they did in his only previous game as a visitor in Montreal, a game in which he got lit up for eight goals, including five in the third period.
Dec. 16 @ N.Y. Islanders: There's a good chance that the Islanders will have either John Tortorella or Bob Hartley behind the bench when the season starts. Presumably, whomever it is would still be there in mid-December.
Dec. 18 vs. St. Louis: The Blues will pay Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya a combined $10 million this coming season - watch 'em try (and fail) to be worth it. The two averaged 21.5 goals and 40 assists apiece last year, and
Dec. 20 @ Philadelphia: The Flyers. In Philly. Mike Wise wet his pants just looking at this game on the schedule.
Dec. 23 @ N.Y. Rangers: It's just not the same any more. No more Jaromir Jagr. No more Sean Avery. Luckily Colton Orr's still around:
Dec. 26 vs. Buffalo: Though we'd happily claim him, Tim Russert was a Buffalo fan first and foremost. Nevertheless, he was beloved in both towns, and perhaps the home team will give a shout out to the late great newsman. On the ice, it's too bad Brian Campbell's no longer a Sabre, isn't it?
Dec. 28 vs. Toronto: In one game against the Leafs last season, the Caps got goals from Boyd Gordon, Matt Pettinger, Jeff Schultz, Matt Bradley and Brian Sutherby. Those five players combined for 21 goals the rest of the season.
Dec. 30 @ Buffalo: The last game of '08 - a year that truly belonged to 08.
Game of the Month: There are a bunch of good Northeast Division matchups on the schedule in December, but the Game of the Month is with a team from the Atlantic, and it's a rematch of last year's first round playoff series with the Flyers.