The Washington Capitals are delighted with one aspect of their 1981-82 schedule, released yesterday. There are none of those dreadful four-games-in-five-days ordeals that ruined them last season.
It was a fourth-in-five defeat, at Toronto, that eventually meant the difference between playoffs and despair for the Capitals. This time, with heavy intradivisional play and reduced travel, no such grind is listed.
The Stanley Cup-champion New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh will make four visits each to Capital Centra, as fellow members of the Patrick Division. Crowd favorites Montreal and Edmonton come in twice. But those many fans of the Boston Bruins in the Washington area are advised to buy tickets early for Dec. 23, that team's only visit.
Aside from the Patrick teams, which compete eight times, there will be only three games against the rest of the NHL. Those clubs that come here twice next season will be seen only once the following year.
Despite the more manageable areas of the schedule, it contains its usual idiocies. St. Louis, for example, makes its two visits six days apart in late February and early March. Four games are set with Philadelphia between Oct. 14 and Nov. 22, with the other four listed in a 20-day period in March.
Highlight of the home schedule is the NHL All-Star Game Feb. 9. The capitals have 25 weekend dates, including six Fridays, 12 Saturdays and seven Sundays. There is one afternoon game, on Saturday, Feb. 27, against Hartford.
Saturday night games will start at 8 p.m., half an hour later than last season.
The full 1981-82 schedule appears on page E11.