The 2018-19 NHL season begins Wednesday night, and it does so with four different matchups, but not a single one might have more Stanley Cup Playoff power than the cross-division showdown between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.
The Capitals, of course, are hockey's defending champions, so already this divisional affair has plenty of juice. Is Washington due for a hangover? Can the Caps fire up their crowd with an opening-night continuation of their summer title run? On paper, the Capitals are remarkably similar to their 2017-18 selves, and that's because they prioritized keeping their core intact. Between Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the gang, this is just about the same crew that got it done in June. Except Barry Trotz is no longer behind the bench, and it remains to be seen just how much, if any, drop-off might come under Todd Reirden's guidance.
The Bruins, meanwhile, enter 2018-19 overshadowed by the top-heavy powers of the Eastern Conference, from the Capitals and Presidents' Trophy favorite Tampa Bay Lightning to the John Tavares-fueled Toronto Maple Leafs. Yet there's no reason not to consider them a top-10 contender. Boston might have the best first line in all of hockey with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, and their defense has some of the NHL's hottest up-and-comers, too. Tuukka Rask is the source of constant debate among Bruins fans, it seems, but the reality is this: Boston has way more than a fighting chance to unseat the Capitals this year.
The two sides will meet Wednesday night. Here's how to catch them in action:
How to watch
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 3
Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern
Location: Capital One Arena (Washington, D.C.)
Stream: fuboTV (try for free)