Washington Capitals: Breaking down the toughest opponents in 2019

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 30: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his 50th goal of the season with teammates and against goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on March 30, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 30: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his 50th goal of the season with teammates and against goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on March 30, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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New York Rangers

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 03: Washington Capitals Right Wing T.J. Oshie (77) works past New York Rangers Center Ryan Strome (16) during a regular season NHL game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers on March 03, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 03: Washington Capitals Right Wing T.J. Oshie (77) works past New York Rangers Center Ryan Strome (16) during a regular season NHL game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers on March 03, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Washington sees them: Oct. 18, Nov. 20, March 5, 26

Just up to the north of the tristate area is a revamped New York Rangers squad looking to take the big apple by storm. The Capitals swept the season series last year, winning all four games but this Rangers team will be vastly different than the one that was out on the ice last season.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 24: Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) is held back by the referee in the third period as New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77) is restrained by linesman Brian Mach (78) on February 24, 2019, at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 24: Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) is held back by the referee in the third period as New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo (77) is restrained by linesman Brian Mach (78) on February 24, 2019, at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Rangers were in the midst of rebuilding and now that rebuild has taken the next phase. The Rangers will be competitive in 2019-20 and soon enough, they’ll be similar to the Blueshirts team that would frequently meet Washington each spring.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 24: Neal Pionk #44 of the New York Rangers and Carl Hagelin #62 of the Washington Capitals battle for the puck in the first period at Capital One Arena on February 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 24: Neal Pionk #44 of the New York Rangers and Carl Hagelin #62 of the Washington Capitals battle for the puck in the first period at Capital One Arena on February 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The final meeting between the two had a thrilling finish even though both teams were going in polar opposite directions. The Manhattan contest went to a shootout and when it was Ovechkin’s turn, the Rangers goalie (of the future, perhaps) Alexandar Georgiev threw his stick at Ovechkin. The “interference”play was reviewed by the officials and awarded a Capitals goal.

The Rangers made some upgrades beginning with the selection of Kaapo Kakko at number two overall as well as the free agency signing of Artemi Panarin. Plus the goaltending tandem of young Georgiev as well as Henrik Lundqvist will make the Rangers a tough out in the metropolitan division.