The NHL has released its schedule for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Capitals are set to play the New York Rangers for the fourth time in five postseasons beginning on Thursday night at Verizon Center.
Washington earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. New York finished as the No. 6 seed. The Rangers beat the Caps in the conference semifinals last spring in a seven-game series. Washington won in five games in the conference quarterfinals in 2011 and in seven games in the conference quarterfinals in 2009.
There were a few scheduling quirks that the NHL had to work around. The NBA’s New York Knicks share Madison Square Garden with the Rangers. The Knicks are up 3-1 in a first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. They host Game 5 on Wednesday night (May 1) and a possible Game 7 on Sunday (May 5). New York, if it wins, will have home-court advantage the following week in a second-round series vs. either Atlanta or Indiana.
There is also a pair of concerts by pop star Taylor Swift at Verizon Center on May 11 (Saturday) and May 12 (Sunday). That pushed a potential Game 7 to Monday night in Washington. Yes – three playoff games in four days with travel. Washington last did that on May 8, 9 and 11 in 2009 against the Penguins. That was for Games 4, 5 and 6 of that epic series. Here is the full schedule with four of the first five games airing exclusively in the Baltimore-Washington market on Comcast SportsNet:
Thursday, May 2: Game 1. Rangers at Capitals, 7:30 p.m., CSN, NBC-SN
Saturday, May 4: Game 2. Rangers at Capitals, 12:30 p.m., NBC
Monday, May 6: Game 3. Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m., CSN, NBC-SN
Wednesday, May 8: Game 4. Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m., CSN, NBC-SN
Friday, May 10: Game 5. Rangers at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. * CSN
Sunday, May 12: Game 6. Capitals at Rangers, * TBA
Monday, May 13: Game 7. Rangers at Capitals, * TBA
The other Eastern Conference series are No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 New York Islanders; No. 2 Montreal vs. No. 7 Ottawa; No. 4 Boston vs. No. 5 Toronto. Unlike the NBA, the NHL re-seeds its playoff teams after each round.
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