It’ll be Washington against New York in the playoffs.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
For the third straight year, the Rangers and Caps will meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs after the Rangers clinched sixth in the East on Saturday night.
The Blueshirts beat the Devils 4-0, then watched as Ottawa lost 2-1 to the Flyers, ensuring New York would finish as the No. 6 seed.
(Washington beat Boston 3-2 in overtime, but the game had no bearing on the Caps’ playoff positioning.)
As mentioned above, the pending first-round matchup will be the third time in as many years we’ve seen Caps-Rangers battle in the postseason.
Last year, New York toppled Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a grueling seven-game series that included an epic triple-OT Game 3 — the 20th-longest overtime game in playoff history.
In 2010-11, the top-seeded Capitals dispatched the No. 8 Rangers in five games in the opening playoff round. That series was highlighted by New York’s anemic offense, which could only muster eight total goals.
One interesting wrinkle here from the Washington side of things — three series vs. New York, three different head coaches.
Bruce Boudreau was behind the bench in 2011, and Dale Hunter was the head coach last year.
This season, it’s rookie head coach Adam Oates, who engineered a stunning in-season turnaround that resulted in Washington winning its fifth Southeast Division title in the last six years.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Legendary broadcaster Doc Emrick sat down with Andrea Kremer to discuss his 40 years in hockey. (Above)
Watch as a group of people (including some former NHLers) take part in a pond hockey game on the Rocky Mountains. (Bardown)
Check out Josh Jooris and Johnny Gaudreau‘s crib:
Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser explains why Brad Marchand deserved a penalty for his collision with Henrik Lundqvist. (TSN)
The EIHL’s Braehead Clan suited up in a kilt-like uniform.
Today’s the day you can start voting for your 2016 NHL All-Stars. (NHL.com)
It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.
But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”
Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.
Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.
Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.
In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.
After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.
Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.
Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.
Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.
While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.
Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.
Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.
Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.
In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.
Some of the more choice quotes:
“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”
“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon Draisaitl–Taylor Hall line] that provides that.”
It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.
They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.
Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.
“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”