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Posted at 12:38 AM ET, 04/08/2012

NHL playoffs will be a fresh start for Capitals

The Capitals’ season hasn’t been smooth or predictable. Nothing, including the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, has come easily. But with a 4-1 win over the Rangers on Saturday to close the regular season, Washington gets to wipe the slate clean.

All along it has been said that the Capitals’ true test lies in the playoffs and after everything has happened this year, that doesn’t change. Can this core group — led by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green — bring postseason success to Washington in its fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs? Everyone will find out.

“I think it’s new season and it’s not going to be excuses,” Ovechkin said. “You have to be sharp every second, every game. It doesn’t matter what score is going to be, are you going to win. You still have to fight and you never know what’s going to happen.”

The last time Washington faced the Bruins in the playoffs was in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 1998. (The Caps won the series 4-2 en route to the only Stanley Cup final appearance in franchise history.) So while the teams are familiar with each other, there isn’t necessarily established animosity between these rosters heading into Game 1 at TD Garden, which will likely to be on Thursday.

The Capitals won the season series with Boston 3-1-0, with all four contests taking place Jan. 24 or later in the season. Former Bruin Dennis Wideman insisted that track record, which includes a pair of wins at TD Garden, is irrelevant.

“It means nothing,” Wideman said. “Boston, they’re a different team in the playoffs. We had success agiaist them throughout the regular season, but I think you’re going to see a different team [when] we play them in the first round.”

Brooks Laich echoed that sentiment: “That all goes out the window when it comes to playoffs. Stats – you guys can look at that, but that all goes right out the window. It’s a new season and it’s a tough building to play in. We’re going to have to play our absolute best in that series.”

More on the Capitals:

Caps get early jump, close regular season with a win

Summary: Capitals 4, Rangers 1

Holtby shines in his Broadway debut

Final regular season standings | Scoreboard

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By  |  12:38 AM ET, 04/08/2012

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