Now we can get down to real business. The bottom half of this list was merely a formality, as the Caps have had only two truly significant rivals in this most recent era. All the other teams have some nice fire-starter in place to ignite or reignite a rivalry, but the two remaining teams already have flames roaring and plenty of oxygen supplying them…
The List: Columbus Blue Jackets, #7, are a code green as far as rivalry… New Jersey Devils earned spot #6… Carolina Hurricanes dutifully take spot #5… Philadelphia Flyers, a code orange rivalry, #4… New York Islanders are #3…
And now, taking the silver medal of hate from Caps fans…
#2 New York Rangers
Rivalry history: As they are old Patrick division foes, this rivalry also begins its story in the 1980s. However, with this specific team, there is absolutely no need to trace things back that far. The Caps and Rangers have met in the postseason four out of the past five seasons, playing a total of twenty-six playoff games… Boy, is that all? In the interest of maintaining a healthy blood pressure and a lower therapy bill, let’s run through these nightmares at a brisk pace.
2009: Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, followed by the Caps lighting up Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist for 14 goals in the next four games, leading to a game 7 at the Verizon Center, where Sergei Fedorov scored his final NHL goal to take the Caps to the second round.
2011: This turned out to be the least stressful series for these two teams during this span. The Caps wiped the Rangers out in a largely uneventful five game series in the first round. The highlight for New York turned out to be this chant, which was a clever response to Caps coach Bruce Boudreau’s biting criticism of Madison Square Garden and its fans… (Verizon Center counter chant)
2012: 2012 ended up being the series with the most at stake because it was the only series that took place in round two. This was Dale Hunter’s Caps team playing John Tortorella’s Rangers, and the style of play painfully reflected that. Rangers advanced in seven brutal games. YouTube highlights at your own risk, I’m moving on.
2013: This most recent series also ended in a game 7 victory for the Rangers, a 5-0 bloodbath in the Verizon Center that denied the Caps a second-round birth. Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” style. I’m done.
Reasons for future rivalry: See above.