The Capitals open up the preseason tonight 40 miles down the road in Baltimore, where interest in D.C.’s hockey team has been growing steadily.

From Tarik El-Bashir’s story today:

Based on statistics provided by Comcast SportsNet, the Capitals drew an average household rating of 0.89 (equivalent to approximately 10,000 homes) in the Baltimore area last season, a 123 percent increase over 2008-09. That’s twice as fast as ratings have grown in Washington during the same time period.

“We’ve talked about it for a few years and basically, the decision in the hockey department was, if you can fill the building, we’ll go play,” General Manager George McPhee said. “You don’t want your players playing in front of 3,000 people. We discussed it, and our marketing department felt that we have a strong group of fans up there that likes to follow the Caps, so we felt it would be great to have our product in front of them live.”

Washington hosts the Nashville Predators at 1st Mariner Arena tonight at 7 p.m. Tarik will be posting his observations once the puck drops, so stay tuned for that.

After a jump, check out a roundup of the D.C.-Baltimore hockey offerings:

— Back in March, Dan Steinberg wrote about the Capitals’ success in Baltimore despite the city’s historic taste for D.C. teams.

— Mike Knuble on playing at 1st Mariner Arena, formerly known as Baltimore Arena, when he was in the AHL: "I have played in Baltimore, against the Baltimore Bandits when I was with the Adirondack Red Wings. I played a couple of games there; one or two. I remember it needed work then. We got dressed in like an actors's studio. It was like an actors' room, it had lights all around the mirrors like they need for make-up. It was the spring of '96 when I played there last." (Mike Vogel)

— Pro hockey returns to Baltimore and takes coaches back to their roots. (Baltimore Sun)

— Some cities just aren’t meant for full-time hockey. “I can safely say that an NHL team with the word ‘Baltimore’ on their sweaters will never exist in my lifetime,” writes Dave Gilmore of Baltimore Sports Report.

— Preseason game could expand Capitals’ fanbase even more. (D.C. Examiner)