Not What It Once Was: The Rivalry Between the Penguins and Capitals

3/12/14 in NHL   |   patrickhoffman3530   |   122 respect

Mar 11, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing James Neal (18) shields the puck away from Washington Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer (20) during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsWhen Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin burst onto the scene with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, respectively, the two teams became big rivals just like they were back in the days of the Patrick Division.

Both teams had the two best players in the world who brought fans to the game and both made their teams better in a big way. Each team became the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and for the most part, have been Stanley Cup contenders year in and year out because of Crosby and Ovechkin.

Not only were the two teams rivals, but Crosby and Ovechkin became rivals as well. Each player wanted to show that they were the best in the game and that they could lead their team to hockey's Holy Grail, something that Crosby accomplished back in 2009.

Nowadays, however, the rivalry between the two teams and its two stars is not the same. In fact, it might be tough to even consider it a rival anymore for several reasons.

For starters, the Penguins have dominated the Capitals over the past two seasons. With their 2-0 shutout over the Capitals last night, the Penguins have won eight straight and for the most part, have won each game in convincing fashion.

In looking at both clubs, it is easy to see just how much better the Penguins are than the Capitals. The Penguins have more scoring, more depth, better defense and better goaltending and as a result, currently find themselves at the top of both the Metropolitan Division and their conference with 92 points.

At the other end, the Capitals have been one of the league's most inconsistent clubs this season. As of this writing, the Capitals are 11th in the East and are three points out of the eighth spot.

While the Ovechkin is leading the league in goals this season with 44, the rest of his team has not followed suit and instead, have shown that they are a
one dimensional hockey team. Playing this way will not win a team many games and right now, the Capitals are struggling to realize that.

Secondly, it is more than clear that Crosby is the best in the game today. Year in and year out, he produces on a consistent basis, helps his team win hockey games on a consistent basis and plays like not only the most valuable player on his team, but also in the entire league.

Ovechkin may be able to score goals but he is not as complete a player as Crosby. Ovechkin needs to figure out how to get his team to the next level in order to get back into the conversation as being the best player in the game.

Lastly, the games do not have the same feel that they did back in the late 2000's into 2012. At the time, a game between the Penguins and Capitals was something to watch and look forward to because of what it was going to bring to hockey fans throughout North America.

Fast forward to now and a game between these two teams does not fire as many people up as it used to. People know which team is better, which player is better and which team is going to win the game before it even starts.

The Penguins and Capitals may still be considered a rivalry, but when looking at it closer, it is definitely not what it once was.
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3/12/14   |   ML31   |   3675 respect

If a rivalry is not what it once was then it was never a true rivalry to begin with.  Two teams that are good for a short time who meet a lot can create a little heat for the time being.  But that is a far cry from an honest to goodness rivalry.  The good rivalries are where no matter how good either team is at any given time, the animosity continues to exist.  Giants and Dodgers are a perfect example of a true rivalry.  It continues to thrive even though recent history has had one team being mediocre to terrible while the other was good.  There are precious few rivalries like that.  Penguins Caps was never a true one.  Neither was Wings-Avalanche.