The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers renew their rivalry this evening with the two teams opening up their 2021-22 campaigns in Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll get any of the rough stuff that we've come to expect from these clubs. Obviously the two teams created some serious fireworks last season when Capitals tough guy Tom Wilson went after both Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich. In response the Rangers went out and acquired reigning NHL heavyweight champion Ryan Reaves from the Vegas Golden Knights. Reaves, who once promoted himself as "The Solution to your Tom Wilson Problem", will be in the lineup this evening despite suffering an injury during the pre-season.
But here's the thing... Reavo may not have himself a dance partner this evening. Wilson himself has said that he's not interested in getting dragged down into the muck with Reaves and is not looking for "a big, physical first night with the Rangers" this evening.
"Having a big, physical first night with the Rangers isn’t where we want to be this year," Wilson said to The Athletic earlier today. "We have a lot of goals. I want to score goals. I want to be a leader. I want to take on more responsibility and get our team to the playoffs and hopefully more."
For what it's worth, Reaves has higher aspirations than knocking a chip off of Wilson's shoudler too.
“I’m not here because of Tom Wilson,” Reaves said to the same reporter. "I’m here because of what players like Tom Wilson bring to his team.”
Regardless of what happens this evening, this is a rivalry that I can really seem blossoming over the next few seasons. While the Rangers aren't yet at the level of the Capitals, they're a team on the rise and you could argue that the Capitals are a team on the decline. In the Rangers you have the young, brash go getters. In the Capitals you have the wise, grizzled veterans. It's no surprise that these two teams hate each other and, frankly, I'm looking forward to watching this rivalry get taken up a notch or two.