Last season left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth in Washington. The Caps dominated the regular season, wrapping up the Presidents’ Trophy for the top record in the NHL by late March with seven games still remaining.
And yet, once again, Washington’s regular season success did not translate to the playoffs. The Caps met the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and were eliminated in six games.
Now, however, Washington will get a chance to erase the sting of last year’s loss in a second-round rematch with the Penguins.
“We were disappointed last year,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “First thing that you thought was about coming back and playing them again and here we are. Maybe not a surprise, but it's going to be a good match up. They're a good team, they're the Stanley Cup champs so it will be a really good match and we're excited about it.”
“Pittsburgh's a rivalry team, knocked us out last year,” T.J. Oshie said. “You don't need much more motivation to get started here.”
In the team’s 41 seasons, Washington has advanced past the second round of the postseason only twice and have failed to do so in the Alex Ovechkin era. Much of their playoff troubles have come at the hands of the same team they now prepare to face.
In the franchise’s 27 playoff appearances, this will be the 10th time Washington and Pittsburgh have met. Washington has gone only 1-8 in their previous nine meetings.
For a team looking to overcome its previous playoff history, it seems almost necessary to have to go through Pittsburgh.
“There's a history with the Penguins,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “I think it's fitting that we have to go through the Penguins at some point. Got to change the narrative hopefully this year and that's what we intend to do.”