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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 12/28/2010

Sidney Crosby: Caps, Penguins 'bring out the best in one another'

By Katie Carrera

Sidney Crosby was on a conference call with reporters around the NHL Monday to talk about his point-scoring streak, the Winter Classic and the rivalry with the Capitals. One thing he made clear was that even though he appeared in the first-ever Winter Classic during the 2008 season, the novelty of the event hasn't worn off.

One of the main reasons Crosby cited was that this particular edition of the outdoor spectacle would be against one of the Penguins' main rivals in the Capitals.

A common sentiment after the teams' first meeting of the 2010-11 regular season was that each team brought out the best in the other, and if the Winter Classic features anything close to the frenetic pace and high intensity of that 3-2 shootout win by Pittsburgh, it will likely be deemed a success. Granted, it's hard to know how any weather-related stoppages or slower ice could impact the environment of Capitals-Penguins games, but those elements can't make the infectious competition between the two teams fade entirely.

"I think [the rivalry has] certainly grown," Crosby said. "You look at... the playoffs and you look at the games that we've played against [the Capitals] in the last few years; it's pretty easy to build a rivalry that's very intense. They're physical and they've been really close games, so I think that's a pretty natural progression as far as the two teams are concerned. I think that's good for everyone.... I think both teams bring out the best in one another. That seemed to be common throughout the matchups in the last few years."

Asked if he thought the Dec. 23 game was a preview of what to expect, Crosby said yes.

"It's been a game that we've seen a number of times the last few years -- exactly that," he said. "Really close, chances at both ends, physical, intense, an emotional game. That's what you get when these two teams play. So I would expect much of the same."

By Katie Carrera  | December 28, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Pittsburgh Penguins, Winter Classic  
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Comments

He's obviously scared! :)

Posted by: j3rockstar | December 28, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Crosby's comments are very interesting, especially in light of the Pens fans who come here on a regular basis to declare that the Caps are not a rivalry team for them...

Posted by: Thisistheyear | December 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

@thisistheyear

those people are full of it...of course we have a rivalry with the Pens...anyone who has watched the teams play each other over the past 2-3 seasons can see it is a rivalry :)

The games are super intense, and Ovie seems to have Malkin loaded into his internal GPS.

Just b/c they are not in our division does not mean they can't have a rivalry. not sure why some on here try to deny the obvious.

Posted by: capscoach | December 28, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually quite surprised that Crosby said this. Going back to the Lemieux days, Pittsburgh's outward attitude toward the Caps has been that the Caps are okay, but in the end, everybody on both sides of the ice and in both arenas knows that when it counts, the Pens will win. This has been very intentional, and feeds into the hex the Pens have traditionally held over the Caps, especially in the playoffs. 2 years ago, Crosby was continuing this tradition by deliberately reserving praise for Varly's incredible stop of his open net shot in Game 1. Traditionally, the Pens haven't wanted to show the Caps a lot of verbal respect, because it's one more way of emphasizing that while the Caps may be good, they're not good enough. Both clubs can talk publicly all they want about how history is history and doesn't matter anymore. But don't believe it, because behind closed doors, neither team believes it either. Both clubs are very aware of the dynamics of the rivalry, and the Pens in particular have perfected their calculated approach to the Caps, because the Caps still can't beat 'em when it counts. And I say this as a Caps fan who despises Pittsburgh. That's why Crosby's comments above are striking, because it's a break from the usual script.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | December 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The fact that the Pens won a bunch of series' in the early 90's against the Caps is meaningless to these players and teams. The Caps have different players(most between the ages of 0-6 when that occurred), different managment, and a different owner from that time. Even the Caps logo is different.

The only thing that is the same is the name of the teams. That doesn't have much of an effect.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 28, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

whats the record of the Caps and Pens over the last 3 year head to head? I know the Pens won a series vs the Caps in 7 games, but otherwise, the Caps have owned the match-up.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 28, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

What I hate most about Crosby is that he's a pretty decent guy. Kinda like Emmitt Smith with the Cowboys...

Posted by: tfirey | December 28, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

At some point, I believe the Caps will turn that corner and if they need to go through Pittsburgh in the playoffs to get to the Stanley Cup Final, so be it. I liken these Capitals and Ovechkin to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls who had suffered repeated failure against the Detroit Pistons in the playoffs and then finally it happened. The Bulls swept the Pistons en route to the 1991 NBA title.

Crosby is a special player and makes everyone on his team better. Our D always have a tough time matching up with him. They'll chase him around and at the same time leave other forwards open for easy goals in front of the net.

What I don't like about Crosby's game is the whining, the diving and the cheap shots that somehow do not get penalized. Yes he should have been suspended for that alleged slew foot in that Rangers game in late November. Yes he has punched people in the butt before. Let's face it, he gets special treatment.

Posted by: orangechico | December 28, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

the caps will choke, as usual, when it counts

Posted by: bestmick1 | December 28, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

too many russians, not enough heart. going to room 3-1 chokers anyomonous. tired of going, been going for 28 years.

Posted by: will_dorr74 | December 28, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

The Caps changed divisions, the Cap fans didn't get the memo. The players don't understand until they've been here a couple of years. Then they learn they have to beat the Pens and the Rangers and the Flyers. Meanwhile, the Pens fans say "not your rival" just like the Dukies. We don't care, it just makes us hate them more.

Posted by: didnik | December 29, 2010 2:26 AM | Report abuse

If this was the early '90s teams it would be more of a rivalry. Those teams literally couldn't avoid each other in playoffs most years because of the divisional alignment.
The games are always good but I'd still put the Flyers slightly ahead of the Caps in terms of team/city rivalries.
The Caps view it as "we have to get past the Pens to show we're a championship team".
The Pens vs Flyers is the whole intra-state rivalry thing. I actually like the Phillies and don't mind the Eagles(not crazy about their fans though)...but I HATE the Flyers! I was rooting for the Hawks in last year's final like crazy.
Caps is a good rivalry...Flyers is a great rivalry.
I agree though that these games do seem to bring out the best in both teams.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | December 29, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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