A spot in the Eastern Conference Final will be up for grabs on Saturday in Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. While the Capitals' postseason is already over, this game will have a distinctly Capitals feel given all the connections with Washington.
This is the first time New York has played in a Game 7 since 2015 when they faced the Caps in Washington. The Caps would win that game 2-1 and advance. The coach? Trotz. It was his first series win with Washington. If the Islanders win, it will be the first time New York has advanced to the conference final since 1993. In that year, the Islanders defeated Washington in six games in the first round.
A Game 7 is only necessary after the Islanders coughed up a 3-1 series lead. This is not the first time that has happened to Trotz. After coaching the Caps to a series win over the Islanders in 2015, Washington would go on to take a 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers in the second round before falling to the Rangers in seven. The head coach of the Rangers at that time was Alain Vigneault, who is now coaching the Flyers and hoping to pull off the comeback series win yet again.
Varlamov was not in Washington with Trotz, but he was the starting goalie in 2010 -- taking over for Jose Theodore in Game 2 -- against the Montreal Canadiens. The Caps took a 3-1 series lead against the Canadiens before Jaroslav Halak led Montreal to a stunning upset of Washington in Game 7.
Niskanen now finds himself on the team trying to come back from a 3-1 deficit. The last time he was in that situation was in 2017 when the Caps went down 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins and battled back to force a Game 7 before losing in that final game. That was also under Trotz. The team tried to take the lessons from the 2015 collapse against the Rangers, which Niskanen was also a part of after coming to the Caps in 2014. A year before he came to Washington, Niskanen played for a Pittsburgh team that coughed up a 3-1 lead in the second round to the Rangers and lost the series.
Maybe this year, he can ask for pointers from his current head coach, Vigneault, who was also the head coach of that Rangers team.