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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 12/23/2010

Thursday thoughts on the rivalry

By Kareem El-Alaily

Judging by the build-up to tonight's game and next week's Winter Classic, it's clear that the Penguins are the team that Caps fans consider their No. 1 rival. Most Penguin fans will tell you that Philadelphia is their No. 1 rival. But worry not, the hatred between the Pens towards the Caps is deep. Consensus is that the whole Crosby vs. Ovechkin rivalry has vaulted Washington over their hated Northeast division opponents to claim the spot as their No. 2 rival. Fair enough.

If you ask a Caps fan who our second biggest rival is you won't get a consensus answer. Ask an old-time Caps fan and they may say Philly or one of the New York teams. Ask a recent Caps fan and they're more likely to say a Carolina or Tampa. So I pose the question to you. Who's the Caps No. 2 rival?

Some more random rivalry-related thoughts:

  • Scott Hannan has had a very rough start for the Caps in his 10 games with the Caps. As pointed out by Japers Rink, he’s been on the ice for 15 of the past 28 goals the Caps have allowed. Not a good start to his career as a Capital. Tonight would be a good time to turn things around and prove that he’s worthy of a jersey when Jeff Schultz returns from injury – as opposed to a seat in the press box.
  • Thankfully, long gone are the days when several hundred drunk Penguin fans would descend on the Cap Center in the early 1990s to relive their adolescent glory, many of them recent hockey converts won over by the nightly heroics of Mario Lemieux. You newer Cap fans have never had to experience those hordes – if you did you’d know that the rivalry extends past the repeated playoff losses and Crosby and Ovechkin. It goes into the stands too. To this day Penguins fans were routinely the most boorish and poorly behaved lot of those that invaded the Cap Center. And that says a lot considering that they had to beat out Flyer fans for that title. It wasn’t just the invaders from Pittsburgh that bothered me. I could understand their aggressive (albeit misguided) exuberance 20 years ago because Pittsburgh was a down-on-its-luck city whose identity was solely defined by the successes of its sports teams. What I couldn’t understand was the incredible number of locals with zero ties to Pittsburgh who would all of a sudden don “Lemieux” and “Jagr” jerseys when the Penguins came to town. These folks will now tell you they were always dyed-in-the-wool Pens fans, but my bet is that they had a multi-year dalliance as Red Wing fanatics during Pittsburgh’s bankruptcy years. Gotta love the bandwagon!
  • As much as I despise the Penguins, I’ve noticed that some Caps fans still have a bad habit of disparagingly referring to Sidney Crosby as “Cindy” or some other immature insult. That’s annoying. I don’t root for Crosby and I don’t like his team, but I can appreciate his skills and passion for the game. Crosby is one of the greatest players to ever suit up and has done nothing but improve as a player since he joined the League. You want to watch a guy make the right decision 99 percent of the time with or without the puck then you watch Crosby. You don’t have to like him and you can certainly decide for yourself if he’s boring or whiny or a borderline dirty player. But constantly disparaging the guy who is going to run away with the Hart Trophy this year is childish and indicative of a lack of understanding and appreciation for the sport. The guy is not Sean Avery and doesn’t deserve the venom he gets from Caps fans. Same goes for Penguin fans and their childish bad-mouthing of Ovechkin.
  • I’m not one to overly emphasize a single regular season game but considering the roller coaster this team has been on the past 10 games, I really want the Caps to make a statement tonight and win. LET’S GO CAPS!!!
  • For those of you wondering, yes that was my brother who almost won Lasik during the second period of the Devils game on Tuesday. MarJo came oh-so-close to delivering!

By Kareem El-Alaily  | December 23, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  | Tags:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  
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Next: 24/7 Part 2: Hockey is hard


Hammer and the nail is the Pens/Caps relationship, not a rivalry.

Posted by: bal503 | December 23, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"Gotta love the bandwagon", Kareem? Have you forgotten that the Capitals have their own hefty share of bandwagoners? Talk about a case of the pot calling the kettle black and throwing stones in glass houses!

Posted by: susan66 | December 26, 2010 6:07 AM | Report abuse

Please Ted...get us out of the SEast Division...The land of dark half-filled buildings in hockey markets where no one cares...That would increase the value of the franchise 15%...easily...and improve the fan experience here enormously

Posted by: Naptowner2010 | December 26, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

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