To help hockey fans everywhere slog through the month of August, we’ve been ranking the Metropolitan division hate through the eyes of Caps fans, or at least this Caps fan. The Columbus Blue Jackets came in at #7, based entirely on unfamiliarity and incompetency. Without further ado…
#6 New Jersey Devils
Rivalry history: The rivalry between the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils has been dead for some time. Older generations will point to the 1988 playoffs as the peak of the rivalry between the two clubs, and for good reason. After dispatching the Flyers in 7 games, the Caps advanced to play the Devils in round 2. Both teams beat each other up pretty good, and this is evidenced by their NHL record for combined penalty minutes in a single playoff series: 654… 654! Caps legend Rod Langway got his calf slashed by the skate of Devils forward Pat Verbeek in game 1, and the injury ended his season. The Caps fell in game 7 on home ice. Sound familiar? The Caps ended up getting their revenge in round 1 of the 1990 playoffs, sending the Devils home in 6 games in what has turned out to be the last playoff meeting between the two.
Reasons for future rivalry: With the Caps competing annually for the playoffs and the Devils being 15 months removed from a run to the cup finals, these two should butt heads frequently in the future. The Devils had a surprisingly disappointing season last year, but I don’t expect that to become a trend. The owner of the Philadelphia 76ers just recently purchased the club, and the new owner will inherit one of the best GMs in the league, Lou Lamoriello.