We finally know who the Caps’ first-round opponent will be, no math needed.
The Capitals will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the first post-season meeting between the two teams. The Philadelphia Flyers win earlier on Saturday propelled them to third place in the Metropolitan Division while the Caps’ win over New Jersey locked the Devils into the second wild card. Columbus had a chance to jump the Flyers and take third place, but a 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators set-up the matchup with Washington.
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Washington may not have played Columbus in the postseason before, but they are very familiar with the Blue Jackets' head coach, John Tortorella, who the team has previously faced five times in the postseason while he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. Washington has won two of those five series.
For the season, the Capitals went 3-1-0 against the Blue Jackets. Washington did lose 5-1 in Columbus, but that game came at the height of Braden Holtby’s struggles. Typically, the Caps have proven to be a thorn in the side of the Blue Jackets. In fact, Washington has gone 12-2-3 against Columbus during Barry Trotz’s tenure with the Caps.
With the Blue Jackets as the wild card, this also means the Pittsburgh Penguins will face the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round in the 2 vs. 3 Metropolitan Division matchup.