Late-season Metro games will mean 'that much more' for Caps

Chris Lingebach
January 10, 2020 - 2:21 pm
Late-season Metro games will mean 'that much more' for Caps

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

More than halfway through the 2019-20 season, the Capitals have yet to play their top rival Pittsburgh.

This is no scheduling mistake by the NHL, but rather by design, as the Caps and Penguins will meet four times between February and March, with their first encounter scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 2. Like the other three, it's an afternoon game on the weekend, which means it will be a marquee matchup between two teams that will figure to be jockeying for position in the Metropolitan Division down the final stretch of the regular season.

Caps forward Carl Hagelin, who's played on both sides of the rivalry, admits it's strange not to have played Pittsburgh this late in the season.

"Yeah, it is," Hagelin told 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny during his weekly appearance, presented by F.H. Furr. "I feel like there's a lot of Metro games coming up, so when you look at it that way, these points are even more valuable than the points you get early on in the year. It means that much more."

The Capitals (65 points) already have a healthy division lead over the Penguins, who are tied with the Islanders for second place with 57 points. That Pittsburgh has remained so close is a testament to the strenght of their team, being able to survive this far without captain Sidney Crosby for most of the season. They also lost Jake Guentzel for the season last month.

With Crosby expected to return from injury soon – after undergoing core muscle surgery on Nov. 14 – the upcoming Caps-Pens matchups and remaining division games figure to be explosive. 

"I know we have Jersey coming up twice here in three games and there's a lot of Metro games," Hagelin said. "And then I saw we're playing Pittsburgh four times in a month there, starting early February and we're done early March against them, I guess. And it's all afternoon games. I saw that too."

"It's definitely strange, but that's the way the league wanted it to be getting close to the playoffs," he said. "You want that rivalry. You want a little glimpse of it already then."

Hagelin' interview begins at the 31-minute mark below.