This weeks' installment of The NHL Weekend Roadie features a trip for the first weekend in November. A month into the new season, teams are beginning to gel as players shake off "summer rust" and start to establish chemistry with new linemates. It's a good time to be a hockey fan...and an even better time to hit the road for three NHL games in three days.
NHL Week Five (Friday, 5 NOV - Sunday, 7 NOV)
Friday, 5 NOV: Boston @ Washington - Fly into D.C. Friday morning and head over to Ben's Chili Bowl for a half-smoke (a link sausage served on a hot dog bun, unique to D.C.) and a piece of sweet potato pie or cake (they're both good). Check into your hotel and hose yourself off, then get to the Verizon Center to watch the visiting Bruins take on the hometown Capitals. This will be the third meeting of the young season between these clubs, following their Black & Blue series of 19 & 21 October. This should a hard-fought game, perfect for the first Friday in November. After the game, get some sleep, as you're hitting the road tomorrow for...
Saturday, 6 NOV: Florida @ Carolina - Hop in your rental car and point it south. Just 260 miles/4.5 hours later, you'll find yourself pulling into the parking lot at the RBC Center. The puck drops at 7:00pm, but get there early: Hurricanes fans like to tailgate! Once you've had your fill, shuffle to your seat inside the arena and buckle your seatbelt, as this will be the second game of a Black & Blue series for these division rivals (they play @ Florida Friday night). The 'Canes are trying to bounce back from a nightmarish 2009-10 season, while the Panthers, picked by many in September to finish last in their division this season, are off to a good start and might just be the hardest working team in the NHL right now. Guaranteed fireworks in this game!
Sunday, 7 NOV: Philadelphia @ Washington - This day requires some careful planning, as you've got another 4.5 hour drive ahead of you, tonights' game starts at 5:00pm...AND you've got an important pregame stop to make in DC: Comet Ping Pong. Guy Fieri hit this place on Triple-D, and the man's got good taste. Go order your pizza (or calzone; they rock, too), then get your blood flowing with a game of ping pong while you wait. Get stuffed, then get thyself back to the Verizon Center for the first meeting of the season between the Flyers and Caps. It's another guaranteed good one, folks.
Three games in three nights in two arenas. A double dose of Ovie & Co. Tailgating before a hockey game. Intense rivalries. Great food. What are you waiting for? Hit the road, Jack!
HOTELS - As always, the OGA Boys recommend hotwire.com for your accomodations (and they don't even pay us to say that). Rooms in DC are notoriously expensive (think New York), but good deals can be found just outside of town. Right now, in Arlington, VA (no more than six miles from downtown DC), a room at a four-star hotel on the night of Friday, 5 NOV, will set you back just $65 (plus tax). Sunday night, a 3.5-star room near Dulles International Airport is just $59. Saturday night in Raleigh, a three-star hotel near the RBC Center will go for around $50.
FOOD - As always, check either roadfood.com or this Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-related site. These people know food, and they won't steer you wrong.
TICKETS - Only single seats remain for the Bruins-Capitals game, but pairs (and more) may be had through TicketExchange or StubHub. Plenty of great seats remain for the Panthers-Hurricanes game, and it's Family Night, which means great deals on blocks of 4 seats AND $1 hot dogs. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, WOO-HOO!
GETTING AROUND - You'll need to rent a car for your run down to Raleigh, so check Hotwire for the best deal. Also, check out the DC Metro for rail service to and from the Verizon Center.
Is there a better way to celebrate the first weekend of November than with some great NHL action in Washington and Carolina? Definitely not! Get your game and airline tickets, book your rooms and rental car, and hit the road - the OGA Boys'll see you at the rink!
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