As we scratch and claw our way through the offseason, let’s take a minute to fan the flames of divisional hate. The Caps, as is well reported, are headed to a new division to clash heads with some new and old foes. It’s hard to say that there was much bad blood in the old Southeast division, and that’s because the entirety of the division was hardly relevant from a winning standpoint. Yes, the Caps racked up plenty of regular season awards, and yes, the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning made it out with a cup apiece, with both being pretty much one-hit wonders. Neither Carolina nor Tampa Bay established much of a winning tradition, and the Caps couldn’t when it mattered most.
Whether the Caps will be a part of it or not, the Metropolitan division will carry more relevancy. This undoubtedly means more rivalry. So, let’s get a jumpstart on things and rank Washington’s Metropolitan division opponents based on each’s rivalry with the Caps.
Rivalry history: Non-existent. Forgive me, Columbus fans, but I can’t even remember a game between these two clubs. The Blue Jackets entered the league as an expansion team in 2000, and they were in the Western Conference cellar for the last thirteen years. They haven’t had much of a chance to get under anyone’s skin.
Reasons for future rivalry: Marian Gaborik. Gaborik, when with the New York Rangers, scored the triple-OT game-winner in game 3 of the 2012 Eastern conference semifinals between the Rangers and Capitals. He was then traded away to Columbus last year, and now he finds himself back in the lives of Caps fans as Columbus joins the Eastern conference and the Metropolitan division this upcoming season. Also, Columbus owns the reigning Vezina trophy winner in Sergei Bobrovsky, and he was the main engine behind the Blue Jackets’ serious run at the playoffs last year. This indicates future competency, and that’s all that is needed to start a rivalry…