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.
It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.
For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.
After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.
Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.
Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:
Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins
Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals
Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.
Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.
The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.
(Check out video of the hit above.)
The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.
Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?
Washington currently leads the game 3-2.
There are plenty of hazards on an NHL rink even if you’re not a player.
Barry Trotz ranks among the coaches who’ve been hit by pucks, though he’s one of the tiny sliver of humans who would shake off a puck to the forehead. It can be dangerous for officials, too, whether it means a wayward puck or wayward player.
The latest example comes in the form of linesman Steve Miller needing help off the ice after a puck hit him in the knee area. As you can see from the video, it looked like he was in serious pain.
It’s refreshing that hockey fans have, for the most part, moved on from debating Tyler Bozak‘s merits.
The general feeling is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him in appropriate ways these days, so we can simply enjoy his work as a pretty spiffy hockey player.
Speaking of spiffy, check out the sweet moves he made against the Minnesota Wild for the goal above. Feels like you could dub over a Chris Berman “whoop” or two in there, right?
(If you’re into that kind of thing.)
Here’s that gaudy move in isolation and in GIF form: