Caps v. Pens Rivalry

Capping off the Series

A Closer Look at the Penguins v. Capitals Rivalry

By Brooke Scardina || Guest Writer

Even if you aren’t a hockey fan, you probably know about the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. The National Hockey League has been around for a hundred years, but the tension between these two teams originated in the ‘80s, when games between the teams were characterized by physical battles and fights. In the 1990s, tensions escalated as the Capitals had lost to the Penguins during the Stanley Cup playoffs for years in a row. In fact, the Capitals have won only one playoff series against the Penguins.

While the rivalry has origins in the late twentieth century, modern day fans often pick on the individual players. Sidney Crosby, a center for the Penguins, is despised by nearly every Caps fan. Some claim this hatred is just a result of jealousy, but there are many other all star players who are not disliked to this extent. The main argument against Crosby is the fact that he’s a cheap player. He’s a diver, meaning he embellishes in order to get some pity from the referees. Diving is not only cheap, but it’s cowardly. Crosby is also a rather sore loser. During a 2009-10 season game versus the Detroit red Wings, Crosby cross-checked an opposing player out of frustration. He simply is not a clean player.

Lastly, when Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick during the 2009 playoff series, Crosby wanted to make an announcement to the entire stadium requesting that hats cease to be thrown (throwing hats is customary for a hat trick, where one player score three goals in one game). Captain Alex Ovechkin also receives some criticism from Pens fans. I would say their primary argument is that he’s a bit of a show off and refuses to share the puck, although as a strong Caps fan I can attest to the fact that Crosby is much more troublesome.

This year, the Caps and Pens meet once again. Playoff series are composed of seven games, therefore a team needs to win four in order to advance. With the Caps’ long history of being defeated by the Pens and choking during the playoffs, the second round is definitely an uphill battle. Although the Capitals had an outstanding record during the regular season, the Penguins have won four Stanley Cups (if you talk to any Pens fan about the rivalry, they’ll almost certainly bring this fact up). The Capitals have won zero.

In terms of strength, both teams have a great deal. This season, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin led the Caps lineup in terms of offensive power, Ovechkin finished with 33 goals and Backstrom with 63 assists. With new defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk incorporated into the lineup, the Capitals are fairly strong on both ends.

Braden Holtby, the Capitals goalie, is considered a top tier player. Last season, he claimed the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the best goalie in the League as selected by general managers. The Penguins have all-star Sidney Crosby who leads the offense. He finished the season with 44 goals and right wing Phil Kessel finished with 47 assists. Marc-André Fleury, the Pens goalie, also boasts a number of awards and has led the team to two Stanley Cup victories.

With the series currently led 3-1 by the Pens, hope for the Caps’ first cup appears rather slim. I’m used to seeing the team choke in playoffs, but it’s never too late for a comeback, especially with such a strong regular season this year.


Penning Captain against Captain

A Closer Look at the Ovechkin v. Crosby Rivalry

By Luke Benson || Guest Writer

One of the largest rivalries for the NHL this decade is between Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. They are the faces of the NHL and the world’s best players. For the past two postseasons they have lead their teams head to head during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. These two superstars are constantly being pitted against each other. Every point, goal, and assist are always being compared to one another. However, there’s one thing that sets the two apart: results. Everyone knows that it doesn’t matter how many goals you score in the regular season, if you can’t produce during the playoffs you’re not going anywhere. Ovechkin has been a leading goal scorer in the league ever since his debut in 2005, and his team is now a repeat owner of the President’s Trophy, but he can’t claim ownership of the most important trophy in hockey, of which Crosby has won twice: the Stanley Cup.

Even when comparing how many individual awards both players have received, Crosby still comes out on top. Crosby finds ways to produce and does it at crucial times, evident of his multiple MVP and scoring awards. Besides his ability to take his team to the red light district (aka score), his leadership skills far outweigh those of Ovechkin’s. The Penguins are able to rally around Crosby because they know they can rely on him, and that’s why they’ve won two Cups with Sid as the captain. Despite this, the Sid vs Ovi rivalry has been one of the best in hockey, and no matter who you root for you have to appreciate what these two players have done for the game.