Washington Capitals vs Columbus Blue Jackets playoff preview
Washington Capitals vs Columbus Blue Jackets playoff preview. (Photomontage: Vavel)

Washington Capitals vs Columbus Blue Jackets playoff preview

The Eastern Conference playoffs for these two Metropolitan Division teams begin Thursday, April 12 in Washington D.C. for Game 1.

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Tyler Fisher

The Washington Capitals clinched the Metro Division title when they got their playoff berth. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets needed at least one point in their matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, which they got in a 5-4 overtime loss. 

Season series

These two teams have met four times during the regular season. The teams first met on December 2, 2017, in the Nation's Capital. The Caps took the first game of the series with a 4-3 win. 

They rounded out their four-game season series in the month of February with Washington winning two of the three games with a combined total of 7-4 goals scored for both teams. 

However, Columbus would avoid the sweep at the end of the month, defeating the Capitals by a score of 5-1. 

Things got heated in that February 26 game, after Columbus opened fire on Washington, scoring four goals in the opening period. As the whistle blew to end the first period, a scrum broke out behind the net and Jacket's forward Matt Calvert was issued a match penalty for butt-ending Cap's captain Alex Ovechkin. 

Player matchups

The series is going to draw a lot of eyes. There's star power on both teams, but with the way Columbus has their numbers lined up, it's going to show a lot. For example, their top three goal scorers make up their first line. 

Artemi Panarin

Panarin has skated in 81 of the 82 games played by Columbus. In those 81 games, the 'Breadman' has notched up 27 goals and 55 assists for 82 points. He also has recorded 228 shots and has an 11.8% shooting percentage. 

Pierre Luc-Dubois

Dubois, a rookie for Columbus has made his way into the top line and has flourished. 

Scoring 20 goals and notching 28 assists for 48 points, Dubois is starting to be a household name for Columbus. He also averages almost 17:00 minutes of ice-time. 

It's also worth noting that he scored his first career hat-trick against the Calgary Flames just a couple weeks ago. 

Cam Atkinson

Atkinson returned from injury at just the right time. And boy did the Jackets miss him. 

To round out the season, Atkinson recorded 24 goals, recorded 22 assists for 46 points. Firing 231 shots, Atkinson has a 10.4% shooting percentage and averages 19:00 minutes of ice-time. 

Now, what do all three players have in common? 

They all scored hat tricks in as many games as the season started to come to an end. 

Now to shift to the other team, the Washington Capitals. 

Alex Ovechkin

If you don't know who Alexander Ovechkin is, you must be living under a rock. He led the team and the NHL with 49 goals. On top of that, he recorded 38 assists for 87 points. With a +3 rating and taking 355 shots on goal, Ovi averages over 20:00 minutes of ice-time. 

Evgeny Kuznetsov

The center of the first line for Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov, shows that he's more of a producer than he is a goal scorer. He had 56 assists to accompany his 27 goals. 

Nicklas Backstrom

Alongside Kuznetsov, Backstrom also sees his success coming from setting up his teammates as he had 50 assists for the season. He also recorded a 12.7% shooting percentage and had 165 shots for the season. 

Stats

The Columbus Blue Jackets ended their 2017/18 campaign with a 45-30-7 record. That was good enough for the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. Columbus ended the season with 97 points, tallying an average of 3 GF/G (goals for per game) and 3 GA/G (goals against per game.) 

The Capitals finished first in their Division with a 49-26-7 record and 107 points. Washington also tallied up 3 GF/G and 3 GA/G. 

Prediction

Now the fun part. PREDICTIONS! 

To start, it's good to see another opponent in the first round -- if you're a Jackets fan... that's not the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

This series will all come down to who will shine the most. 

Washington has more experience in the playoffs and knows what it takes to make it to the second round. Columbus, on the other hand, has made the playoffs for the second consecutive year in a row; the first time in franchise history. 

Columbus might just have the upper hand. They seem to rely more on their young guns to contribute. And with the help of veterans on the team, Columbus could actually make it out of the series and into the second round. Another accomplishment that will be the first in franchise history. 

But there's something about those Caps that will just take it to Columbus. Therefore, Washington will take this series in six games, winning 4-2. 

Will the Columbus Blue Jackets survive the first round against the Washington Capitals? Or will Washington use their experience to possibly sweep the young Blue Jackets? Let us know in the comment section below. 

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