The Washington Capitals begin the Eastern Conference Finals tonight against the Lightning in Tampa Bay tonight.
It's the first time the Capitals have been to the Eastern Conference Final since 1998.
A group of five members of Tampa Bay's roster helped eliminate the Capitals in the playoffs twice in the second round (2012, 2015) and once in the first round (2013).
That group of players includes Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman and JT Miller, or as they have become known "Rangers South."
"Rangers South" is something that Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper says they are "all about" and that the Rangers loss is Tampa's gain. (Washington Post)
Cooper said, "I look back now and see why the Rangers had success in that window of time a few years ago. These guys were a big part of it, and not to put a pun here, but it's a little 'Lightning in a bottle,' or 'Rangers in a bottle.' We are fortunate to have these guys, and I think that is what has really helped our team - they are unreal teammates, and we are all about the Rangers South." (Washington Post)
The five former Rangers have been praised as being a big part of this Tampa Bay run.
Adam Rotter: The five former Ranges are part of a situation in Tampa Bay that they never had with the Rangers. Anton Stralman is playing a pretty similar role and JT Miller is on the top line, but Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are all complementary pieces for Tampa after being core pieces for the Rangers. It's not that those three aren't important to the Lightning, but neither Callahan or McDonagh are the captain, Dan Girardi is averaging 16:59 per game as opposed to his career playoff average with the Rangers of 22:43. Victor Hedman allows McDonagh to focus his game and Callahan's slot in the bottom six accentuate all the great things about Cally's game. McDonagh still plays tough minutes but he averaged 27:21 in 12 playoff games for the Rangers last year and is averaging 22:25 now. With the exception of Stralman, the Rangers had reasons for moving on from the other four. Ultimately the Rangers have to hope that the cap savings with Girardi and the prospects from the McDonagh/Miller trade will help them get to be in Tampa's current position.