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Posted at 8:01 AM ET, 12/31/2010

Caps-Penguins rivalry isn't limited to NHL

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

On Thursday night, 13,567 people in Consol Energy Center watched the Hershey Bears claim a 1-0 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Among the crowd were several former and still-partial Bears who are currently playing and practicing with the Capitals.

While all levels of any NHL organization are linked, the Capitals and Bears share an additional bond in their rivalry against Penguins, whether from Pittsburgh or Wilkes-Barre. That players can first experience the intensity of contests against a foe in the American Hockey League and then rise through the ranks in parallel to their rival counterparts only strengthens the competition.

During his time in Hershey, Eric Fehr faced off against now-Pittsburgh Penguins like Max Talbot, Marc-Andre Fleury and Tyler Kennedy. Current call-ups like Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault are accustomed to battling in the corners against players like Alex Goligoski and Mark Letestu.

"It gets heated; it gets physical. Coming up from the minors at the same time, a lot of the guys you get used to playing from Wilkes are in Pittsburgh," Fehr said. "When we're all up [in the NHL] the rivalry continues. Some of those [AHL playoff] series got real physical, real chippy. There was a lot of stick work and everything that comes with intense playoff series like that."

One of the biggest differences between the two pairs of contenders, though, is that in the AHL, Hershey and Wilkes-Barre will meet 10 times in the regular season. They usually play each other in exhibition contests and again in the playoffs as well, bringing extra familiarity.

"I remember the first year we won the [Calder] Cup, I think we played Wilkes-Barre 19 times in one year," said Andrew Gordon, who was reassigned to Hershey on Wednesday. "So you really get tired of going into the corner against those same guys that have been line matching you for a quarter of your season. Things carry over and your blood sort of boils when thinking about getting back for what they did last time. You just really want to put those guys down and put those guys behind you."

FROM THE POST
The NHL is sticking to its guns and says it expects the Winter Classic will be played as scheduled despite the impending rain. "We fully expect to get the game in on Saturday," John Collins, the league's chief operating officer, said Thursday.

Still, weather models are trending wetter for Pittsburgh on New Year's Day. Keep up with the latest forecast over at the Capital Weather Gang.

Complete Winter Classic coverage, with photos, videos and more, can be found here.

AROUND THE WEB
NHL.com caught up with Alex Ovechkin last night at Consol Energy Center, where he was cheering on the Bears against the Baby Pens:

Alan May talks about the joy of playing for the Capitals alumni -- and against Mario Lemieux. (CSN Washington)

The Capitals-Penguins alumni game at Heinz Field starts at 9:30 a.m. Watch it live here.

Who would play better in bad conditions, the Capitals or the Penguins? (Puck Daddy)

If you're in Pittsburgh for the Winter Classic, there's plenty to do on New Year's Eve. (Post-Gazette)

By Katie Carrera  | December 31, 2010; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winter Classic  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: George McPhee not worried about Winter Classic: 'This game will be played'
Next: Greetings from the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field

Comments

Is this April 1st and not New Year's Eve??

This is a bad omen, reading Fehr and A.Gordon talking about physical, intense games that get the blood boiling. What a joke.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 31, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

vermont, and if it was Johnny E making those comments?

Posted by: Steve_R | December 31, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The Caps - Pens Alumni game is about to start. The audio/video feed is now on NHL.com.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 31, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Alan May just scores midway through the 1st period to tie the game 1-1. We will never the end of it on CSN. And, Paul Mulvey just scored and the Caps have taken a 2-1 lead.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 31, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Caps Vets now up 2-1. Alan May even scored! :) The announcers seem to only know the Pens Vets. It's avery one sided "analysis".

Posted by: Hattrik | December 31, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

@steve_r

Well, if it was #4 making those comments I'd feel a little better. It doesn't serve the Caps any purpose speaking to a "bitter" rivalry w/any team, let alone the Pens. According to the voting on hockeyfights.com, here are some team records in the fight dept (wins-losses-draws):

NYR 19-9-7
Pitt 19-16-4
Bos 18-7-8
Phi 6-7-6
Wash 6-12-7

Let's hope the game doesn't get out of control and turn dirty/nasty as other "rivalry" games have...we wouldn't stand a chance :(

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 31, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Citing hockey fights as a source for stats? Gotta admit, that's a first.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 31, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else not getting any audio from the NHL.com feed?

Posted by: KnubleEveIt | December 31, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

@steve_r

do you know of any other site that caters solely to the fighting culture of the NHL? If so, let me know....

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 31, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

3-3 after the 1st Half.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 31, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

KnubleEveI - the audio is weak & mono, and only thru my left channel. 1500 should be covering this, it's a Pens broadcast, geesh.
I'm kinda disappointed by the Caps lineup. It's good seeing Don B, Cote, Locker, & May playing...

Posted by: Hattrik | December 31, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

just found the lineup, it's not that bad, actually. It's just the Pittsburg announcers aren't recognizing the Caps Vets, that are on the ice.

Posted by: Hattrik | December 31, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Bondra just tied it at 5-5 with under a minute to go

Posted by: RedRedRed | December 31, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

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