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New York Islanders “@” Washington Capitals [Conf. quarterfinal Game 1 Thread]

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The real thing starts this afternoon.

NHL: FEB 10 Islanders at Capitals
Wonder what they’re looking at!
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Islanders and the Capitals begin another chapter in their long-standing rivalry in what will be their eighth meeting in the playoffs. I’ve got jitters, folks. I’m so excited, you have no idea.

Puck drop was originally slated for 3:00 p.m., but with the Hurricanes and Bruins going to overtime, puck drop will likely be delayed—I believe 90 minutes are needed between one game in a particular bubble ending and the next game beginning because the dressing rooms need to be disinfected before the next teams go in, and then the Isles and Caps will need to have warm-ups.

So we’ll see what time we actually start. I’m just hoping we don’t suffer the same fate Carolina and Boston did yesterday by having the game pushed back an entire day. As I write this, the ‘Canes and B’s have eight minutes left in the first overtime. Patrice Bergeron scored just over a minute into the second overtime, so the puck drop will still drop today on Islanders-Capitals at 4:04 p.m.

As long as things proceed as planned, I presume it will be Semyon Varlamov in the cage for New York and Braden Holtby for Washington.

Johnny Boychuk is supposed to be available for today’s game, but Andy Greene played much better in his stead in Games 2, 3, and 4 against the Panthers in the Qualifying Round. It will be intriguing to see what Barry Trotz does with these two.

In 2015, the last time the Islanders and Capitals met in the playoffs, Boychuk was a huge part of neutralizing Alex Ovechkin and the Washington top line, to the extent that they actually were neutralized. but that was five years ago. That season, Boychuk and Nick Leddy formed one of the best pairings in the entire NHL; of late, they’ve arguably been one of the worst. By contrast, Leddy put up some of his best numbers of the season alongside Greene last week (small sample size alert).

The Capitals, meanwhile, will definitely be without Lars Eller, who is still in quarantine in his return to the bubble—he left to be present for the birth of his child. John Carlson, their top defenseman by far, is a game-time decision. He missed all of the round robin games last week.

In any event, let’s hope the puck drops at some point today. According to MSG, puck drop on this one will be at 4:04 p.m.