The Islanders and Capitals will meet for the first time in the playoffs since Barry Trotz left the 2018 Stanley Cup champions for Long Island. He knows the team well; he knows their head coach, Todd Reirden, well.
It’s hard to get away from “The Capitals versus Barry Trotz” storyline.
“Everyone’s going to mention it as far as the coaching staffs,” said Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. “We know them well; they know us well. We’ve played each other quite a bit. It’s going to be a little bit of a chess match game in that at some point systems a little bit are going to go out the window. I think both teams are going to play their systems pretty well. It’s going to be who’s going to not quit, who’s going to keep going, who’s going to really stick with it until the end.”
“That group has a lot of pedigree,” said Trotz. “They’ve got a lot of star power, and they’ve won a championship. They’re well-equipped in a lot of areas, so the biggest challenge is to play them even and play them hard, and they’ll do the same because I know a lot about that team.”
Since Trotz was hired by the Islanders, the teams have split their eight regular-season matchups, 4-4. There won’t be many surprises between the Metropolitan Division rivals when they hit the ice for Game 1 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream)
The Capitals will be without Lars Eller, who left the bubble last week to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. He could be back for Game 2 Friday. John Carlson did not play any of Washington’s three round-robin games, but Reirden said he will be a game-time decision. Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk has been out since Game 1 of their Qualifying Round series, but Trotz said he is “highly probable” to play Wednesday.
Game 1: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, 11 a.m. ET – NBCSN; livestream: Originally scheduled for 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, this game was rescheduled due to the multiple overtimes needed to decide Game 1 of Blue Jackets-Lightning. Dougie Hamilton will be a game-time decision.
Game 1: Coyotes vs. Avalanche, 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN; livestream: Colorado finished the regular season in second place in the Western Conference (92 points). They remained the No. 2 seed after the round robin, when they won their first two games before losing to Vegas in overtime in their final game, which determined the top two seeds in the West. The Coyotes entered the qualifying round as the No. 11 seed after finishing the season with 74 points. They defeated the Predators in four games for their first playoff series win since 2012.
Game 1: Canadiens vs. Flyers, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN; livestream: The Flyers were the hottest team in hockey at the time of the pause and they carried that momentum with them in the Round Robin. Philly won all three games in regulation, including Saturday’s game against Tampa, to earn the top seed in the East. Montreal was the last club to make the 24-team expanded playoff field. The Habs had a regular season points percentage of .500 and were awarded the 12th seed in the East. Led by goalie Carey Price, they took down the Penguins in four games in the Qualifying Round.
Game 1: Canucks vs. Blues, 10:30 p.m ET – NBCSN; livestream: The defending champion Blues finished the regular season atop the Western Conference, becoming the first defending champ to finish the following regular season atop their conference since the 2000-01 Devils. But in Round Robin play, St. Louis went winless (0-2-1), blowing a third period lead in all three of their losses. After getting shut out in Game 1 in their Qualifying Round series against the Wild, Vancouver won three straight to advance to the First Round. The series win over the Wild was Vancouver’s first since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.
Game 2: Blue Jackets vs. Lightning (TB leads 1-0), 3 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights (VGK leads 1-0) , 5:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Hurricanes vs. Bruins, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Flames vs. Stars, 10:30 p.m ET (CGY leads 1-0) – NBCSN