The Washington Capitals have a storied history full of intense rivalries that make the world of hockey all the more exciting for fans and players alike.
With fierce competition on the ice and a burning passion to win, these rivalries have shaped the dynamics of the sport and the team’s legacy over the years.
One of the most notable rivalries is against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a matchup that has produced some unforgettable moments on the ice.
These two teams, both members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference, have had their fair share of dramatic clashes that serve as a testament to the passion that the sport of hockey evokes.
Of course, the Capitals’ rivalries aren’t limited to just the Penguins. They’ve faced intense competition from the likes of the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and even the Montreal Canadiens.
Each of these rivalries has produced memorable moments and has pushed the Washington Capitals to perform at their best, making every game on the schedule an event worth watching.
- Historical Rivals of the Washington Capitals
- Recent Rivals of the Washington Capitals
- Potential Rivals of the Washington Capitals
- Rivalry Determinants
Historical Rivals of the Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have had a long-standing rivalry in the National Hockey League.
Since both teams have played in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference since 2013, their matches are known for being extremely competitive, often featuring intense playoff matchups.
Both teams have seen great success, with players like Alex Ovechkin leading the Capitals and Sidney Crosby dominating the ice for the Penguins. This storied rivalry has led to some unforgettable games and moments for fans of both teams.
New York Rangers
Another historical rival for the Washington Capitals are the New York Rangers. These two teams have faced each other numerous times in the playoffs, creating incredibly memorable moments.
The rivalry began in the early years of the Capitals’ existence and has continued to grow over time.
Some standout moments include the Rangers overcoming a 3-1 series deficit in the 2015 playoffs to win in seven games and the Capitals pulling off a stunning comeback in Game 4 of the 2009 playoffs.
This rivalry delivers memorable games almost every time these teams meet on the ice.
The Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the Washington Capitals’ most heated rivals throughout their history.
The two teams have had their fair share of on-ice battles, including brawls and plenty of physical play.
One notable moment in the rivalry occurred in 1995 at The Spectrum, where Flyers goalie Ron Hextall and Capitals forward Rob Pearson engaged in a famous scrum.
While the intensity of the rivalry has waxed and waned over the seasons, it remains an important part of the Capitals’ history and continues to entertain and captivate fans whenever these two teams face off against each other.
Recent Rivals of the Washington Capitals
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Washington Capitals have developed an ongoing rivalry with the Tampa Bay Lightning in recent years.
The two teams have met multiple times in the playoffs, with the Capitals finally overcoming their postseason demons against the Lightning by winning the Eastern Conference Final in the 2017-18 season.
This victory paved the way for their first-ever Stanley Cup win.
The two teams have also been locked in a battle for superiority in the regular season. With several thrilling games between them, the intensity of this rivalry has grown with each encounter.
Another rival the Capitals face are the Boston Bruins. The rivalry has intensified with the Capitals eliminating the Bruins from the playoffs in both the 2011-12 and 2020-21 seasons, showing that Washington can hold its ground against experienced and physical teams like the Bruins.
The mutual distaste between these two teams is evident on the ice, with aggressive play and high emotions often evident when they face-off.
This rivalry promises to bring more exhilarating matchups in the seasons to come.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Lastly, the Columbus Blue Jackets have recently become a rival of the Washington Capitals. The two faced off in the 2017-18 playoffs, with the Capitals rallying to win the series after losing the first two games at home.
Since then, the matchup between these teams has intensified, and there is certainly no love lost when these two clubs meet on the ice.
The Capitals and Blue Jackets rivalry has been fueled, in part, by close standings battles and hard-fought games that have come down to the wire.
It remains to be seen how this rivalry with Columbus will develop further, but it is clear that the Washington Capitals have no shortage of fierce competition throughout the league.
Potential Rivals of the Washington Capitals
The Carolina Hurricanes have recently emerged as a potential rival for the Washington Capitals. In the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Hurricanes defeated the reigning champions, the Capitals, in a hard-fought seven-game series in the first round.
This intense matchup has fueled the rivalry between these two teams and promises exciting games in the future.
Carolina’s young and energetic roster, combined with their unique and passionate fanbase, creates a lively atmosphere when they face off against the Capitals.
As the Hurricanes continue to develop and improve, these matchups are expected to become even more competitive, solidifying their status as a rival team for the Washington Capitals.
New Jersey Devils
Although not traditionally considered a major rival of the Washington Capitals, the New Jersey Devils have been involved in numerous competitive games and clashes with the Capitals in recent years.
As a fellow member of the Metropolitan Division, the two teams frequently face off and fight for dominance in the standings.
The rivalry between the Capitals and the Devils may not have the same intensity as those with the Pittsburgh Penguins or the New York Rangers, but it is steadily building momentum as both teams become more competitive.
The addition of young talent on New Jersey’s roster has fueled their growth, and this, coupled with the Capitals’ star-studded lineup, makes for some entertaining hockey matchups between these two teams.
One of the key factors that contribute to rivalries in sports is geographical proximity.
The Washington Capitals, being a part of the NHL’s Eastern Conference, have several rivals based on their close geographical locations, such as their Metropolitan Division counterparts – the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers.
These rivalries are intense partially because the fans of the teams are usually from the same region, leading to increased competition and animosity between them.
Another important determinant of rivalries is playoff battles. The history of the Washington Capitals in the playoffs has led to the development of several rivalries through memorable and hotly-contested playoff series.
For instance, the Capitals-Penguins rivalry has its roots in the numerous playoff match-ups between the two teams since the early ’90s. The Capitals have also had a rivalry with the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, with multiple playoff encounters throughout the years.
These playoff battles not only contribute to the intensity of the rivalry but also help shape fan preferences, as each fanbase desires to see their team emerge victorious in the high-stakes playoff atmosphere.
James is a big time NBA Golden State follower, who makes sure to catch games when he's in the area. He likes to follow International Soccer, with an interest in small town soccer club, Blackburn Rovers located in the North on the UK.