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Posted at 2:36 PM ET, 01/ 2/2011

Winter Classic adds new chapter to Capitals-Penguins rivalry

By Katie Carrera

(By Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)


There were a lot of unusual elements to this latest contest between the Capitals and Penguins--- the Winter Classic hoopla, the rain, the outdoor ice rink and so on -- but one thing that remained unfettered in light of the special circumstances was these two teams' intense dislike for each other.

Washington and Pittsburgh were credited for a combined 70 hits, including Alex Ovechkin's tone-setting check on Zbynek Michalek in the first period that knocked a pane of glass out of place in the corner of the rink. It also quickly became apparent at Heinz Field on Saturday night that nothing would take the heat out of this rivalry.

There was the fight between John Erskine and Mike Rupp, several scrums after whistles highlighted by one between Ovechkin and Chris Kunitz with 0.6 seconds remaining in regulation. It was an important 3-1 win for the Capitals to kick off the New Year but by the end of the contest, another chapter in the Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry was complete.

"There was no less bite," Jason Chimera said. "I think we were supposed to shake hands with them and we didn't. I don't know if they didn't want to shake hands, but I don't think we would have wanted to shake hands, either, if we lost."

The Capitals put on quite a celebration upon time running out in the third period and Coach Bruce Boudreau even admitted that in terms of a prominent national stage, this is as close to the Stanley Cup that they've ever been. But that jubilation also drew the attention of the Penguins.

"Yeah, I noticed, because it's just one game," Evgeni Malkin said of the Capitals' celebration. "Of course you want to celebrate when you win, but this is not final. We still play two more times."

While the rivalry added drama and some extra intensity to a contest that could have been slowed by the rain and ice conditions, it was simply the natural state between these two teams, according to Mike Knuble. Regardless of the opponent, the veteran winger was just happy with the way the Capitals buckled down to take full advantage of the conditions and frustrate the Penguins.

"Guys finished checks, it's not real dirty or anything -- guys just played hard. We're all pretty familiar with each other, but I'm just thrilled with the way we played," Knuble said. "It has nothing to do with the way [Pittsburgh] played. When you got the lead [Saturday], it was really hard to come back. It wasn't like a normal ice surface. When it started raining, guys were saying on the bench: 'This is going to help us.' It's all going in our favor if it keeps raining like this, because it's awfully difficult to make plays out there."

By Katie Carrera  | January 2, 2011; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Pittsburgh Penguins, Winter Classic  
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Next: Capitals-Penguins Winter Classic scores big in NBC ratings

Comments

Vermontcaps will undoubtedly want to get the above photo blown up to poster size for prominent display in his home.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@zmega

Excellent idea and I would, but there's no room on any of my walls or ceilings because of the special-made Fathead posters I've got of him plastered throughout the house. He made everyone proud to be a Caps fan last night...WAY TO GO JOHNNY E!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 2, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else looking forward to the last episode of 24/7 :)

And I guess that answers my question about why they didn't shake hands.

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Malkin is such a hypocrite. Mr, "Yeah, I noticed, because it's just one game,".. Does he usually celebrate his goals like he did on the first goal, jumping into his teammates on the bench?

Posted by: 104_CapsFan | January 2, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey sports fans, What rivalry ? We're a joke to the Pens fans. If we were a true rival we would have gone into Pittsburgh up 2-0, and would kicked and scratched our way to a single victory. Instead, we went into Pitt and (like the Habs game 5 last year) weren't ready for a knife fight. We let the Pens back in too easily. Pens win cUp. Same old story.

We you constantly implode against another team in the playoffs, you're not a rival.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

It'd be nice if #4 had some support when it came to mixing it up w/the heavies on other teams, and I think it important that the team figure-out how to maximize what DJK can bring to the team. I think the game ABSOLUTELY added a new chapter to the rivalry and I hope we don't "get caught with our pants down". (I'll take the liberty and speak for cstanton as he's probably snowboarding or something.)

If not, the team should look to shop he and B.Gordon (when healthy) to other teams....I bet the Isles and/or Devils would part w/some serviceable grit for those two, and we certainly wouldn't be losing much in exchange.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 2, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@hunterforcoach

huh?

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Even if the Caps weren't involved this was by far the best NHL outdoor game in terms of game play (and I've seen them all). End to end, lots of scoring chances. A real tribute to both teams considering the conditions and the ice. They've proven that they're two of the best clubs in the world. Even on terrible ice and with rain pouring down played entertaining hockey.

Posted by: ranndino | January 2, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The World Juniors quarterfinals are today, for those who want to watch some more hockey. Canada should dispose of the Swiss starting at 3:30, although the Swiss kept it close against the US. Russia vs. Finland should be a real battle starting at 7:30 tonight. I think both games are on NHL network.

As far as the Caps young guys, Orlov looks to be the closest to seeing some time with the big club IMO. He has been the best player on a somewhat disappointing Russian team, a strong candidate for all- tournament team IMO. He is among the tournament leaders in scoring and +/-. He is strong offensively, can QB the PP, but still needs to improve his defensive responsibility. We might see him next year mostly in Hershey but occasionally in DC, if things can be worked out with the KHL. Kuznetsov started off slow but is finally scoring some. I think he is a year farther off from playing for the Caps, but the offensive potential is there. Eakin has been dinged up but he looks pretty solid to me - good quickness and decision-making with the puck. Wey has seen limited time as a PK specialist for the US. Galiev missed the final cut for Team Russia. I think Wey and Galiev are a few years off from seeing time in DC, if they develop. I think Grubauer did not impress in goal for Germany, and he is behind a lot of young talent in the Caps system.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I just got back from Pittsburgh and had an incredibly great time. It made me proud to be a Caps fan-after the game, we all quietly exited the stadium discussing the game amongst ourselves without making a spectacle. However, quite a number of Pitt fans, without provocation cursed, ridiculed, and taunted us Caps fans showing nothing more than a bitter sore loser attitude. Most of us laughed at their antics while others responded to their jeers. Keep it classy, Pittsburgh, came to mind.

I was looking through the posts from the game and missed the analysis from BigGameSid. Maybe he should now change his name to BigLameSid.

Posted by: AADCDERM | January 2, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

BGS actually showed himself to be something of a stand-up guy, posting right after the game with some compliments for the Caps and dissatisfaction with the Pens.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

True rivalries involve teams that have a history of playing extremely competitive games where the outcome is uncertain.
The old time Pens fans flat out laugh if you mention a Pens/Caps rivalry. We're a door mate on their way to the cUp.

We've had them down 1-3 TWICE and have choked. One year they won the cUp.
We need to destroy these guys and 3 other NHL teams this spring before we're considered rivals with anyone.

I doubt this coach and team can play at the level they played at last night for a month, which is what it takes to carry the BIG UGLY CUP home. Loved the game, but these Pens are going to be the same old nasty, tough to beat, playing injured, ready to win a cUp team they always are come spring. Fry 'em and we can talk rivalry.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@hunterforcoach

man! just enjoy the moment! As for this not being a rivalry...well I consider that a ludicous remark (a few on here have said it) Any idiot can look at these two teams play each other and see that there is more to the games than 2 points...sure the Pens have us beat overall right now, but that has nothing to do with whether a rivalry exists.

The Pens hate the Caps and the Caps hate the Pens...did u watch the last HBO episode? I mean the audio on it was unbelievable in that game...intense

There has been 1 playoff series since Ovie and Crosby helped to create this new rivalry...they beat us in game 7...granted it was an ugly game. Just b/c they won doesn't mean we are not rival worthy.

We are rivals b/c when we play each other, the games are super intense and whichever team loses feels like a dagger went through their chest. thats a rivalry.

As for the caps ability to play well over the long haul...I dunno what they will do in the spring...but they are playing a better brand of hockey for the long haul now, and I am proud that BB has convinced the team to buy into the new system. Right now they are learning to get pucks deep, play better D, and sub in some dirty goals for the flashy play...I see no need to concentrate on something that may or may not go wrong later...it is going pretty good right now.

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@zmega

Biggamesyd is just blowing more air into your balloon. He knows that there is a 90% chance the Caps will find a way to lose to the Pens in the playoffs. (God forbid we have them down 3-1 a THIRD time !!!!!)

Your balloon will "pop" that much louder. The HBO series convinced me that BB is not cUp material. I hope I'm dead wrong !! But, we've been here before. Thinking we can knock out the Pens after a single 60 minute performance. A Pens/Caps playoff series would be ghastly, with the winner severely injured and exhausted. The Pens would recover much more easily than the Caps due to "heart and character factor".

If we win it will be despite BB. Let's be careful here. The Pens will make trade deadline moves that will have us weeping.
And, they are playoff monsters. Pray baby, pray !!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I'll try and enjoy this game. But, being a long time Caps fan, I know what's in the shadows around the bend in the road. The Pens not liking us is a start, at least.

They used to look forward to playing us in the playoffs and not the Raaaangers or Flyers. We can at least change that perception, I guess.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Hunterforcoach: You are a joke. You are one of those "fans" that won't give the caps any kudos. Even when the Caps win the Cup you will come up with some crap like "Well,the Caps haven't proven anything yet because they have only won one Cup" Pens fans think it's a rivalry and so do the Pens. If you really don't think THESE Caps and Pens don't have a rivalry you are lost. I regularly watch the Pens play on NHL Center Ice when the Caps are off and they only celebrate goals in the manner they did last night and every other time they have played the Capitals in the last 4 years when they play the Flyers, and the Red Wings.

It is almost exhausting to read the constant bashing by so called fans.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 2, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Rupp during the fight? You can see he said something to Johnny 4skine... probably that he couldn't go anymore, because after the fight he went directly to the locker room. Did he cut his hand on 4skine's helmet or something?

When will the Winter Classic be replayed on NHL Network or elsewhere?

Posted by: griz0615 | January 2, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Rupp during the fight?
----------------------------------------------------------------

He lost a contact lens, allegedly...

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

@hunterforcoach

man! just enjoy the moment!...

Well said @capscoach!!

hunter- cant u just enjoy being a caps fan and not ridicule the team ur 'suppose' to be a fan of.I mean come on,ur gonna cry about whether caps/pens are a rival or not.thats just lame.Its a game,for our enjoyment,to care for,love,or hate,its still just fun being a fan.you dont have to pick apart rivalries whether they are or arent,just let it be what it is and enjoy the moment.just cause the pens beat the caps more in the playoffs has nothing to do with how hard they play each other and there hatred shines through every game.thats a rivalry!not who wins or loses.so just chill out,enjoy the game,being a fan of the best sport in the world,and who care what it takes to be a rivalry.It is what is is have fun with it and stop being lame just for the sake of arguement.GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | January 2, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

fanohock: Be honest, Huntsy makes at least half a decent point.

Huntsy: If you had just a little less negativity, people might believe you.

These aren't your grandfather's Caps. Those guys who choked to Mario and (gag) Jagr are gone. The last of them (Olie) was in the booth yesterday. Today's Caps have choked the last two years, to be fair, but they really seem to be TRYING to change. Give credit where do. A bunch of us said, "This is what the caps must do..." to change things around. The Caps as an organization seem to be doing those things. OK, they signed Poti to an extension (Why, in God's name, why?). Other than that, Hendricks and Hannan (we've seen Alzner's game improve since Hannan got here - Karl is learning the "paw to the jaw" move) are improvements. The PK is better. The style is slowly evolving away from the disco glitz they love to do (OK, the behind the back Showtime passes need to stop).

Just say it three times, Huntsy: "Maybe, maybe, maybe."

NOW...it's SNOWING here in SoCal!!! Not since Jan, 96 in Bel Air, MD have I seen snow!!! We have 1/8th inch and it's sticking! Holy Cow! I don't own a shovel! Holy Moly they coulda held the Winter Classic here!

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 2, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

yeah, rupp said his contact flipped in is eyeball and couldnt see so johnny e. stopped fightin as the good sportsman that he is!

Posted by: gratefuldid | January 2, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

I hope Rupp has plenty of spare contact lenses in his locker. I assume most of the contact lens wearers in hockey and other sports keep extras, due to the possibility of contact. With disposable lenses being the norm, that possibility is greater.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 2, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Let's just enjoy the moment. It is a great day to be a Caps fan.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 5:45 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

With all the wacky weather being reported, as of late, between warm weather in New Year's for Pittsburgh, the weather being warmer in Pittsburgh than in Nashville, TN, snow in Southern California, and a major snowstorm hitting the whole East Coast, except the Washington, DC area, is the long predicted shift of the axis taking place?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 2, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

So why didn't Mile Milburry have anything to say after the game? I have a sneaking suspicion that had the Pens won, he would have had plenty to talk about.

Is it time to start putting out "missing" posters for Backstrom? I think ovie would be scoring more if he had a center (ie. last seasons backstrom) to help him out a bit.

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Sidney "Protected" Crosby is the most spoiled brat in the hockey world of all time!

The Canadian Media applauds!

But don't acknowledge that Penguins and Team Canada has a great support team/ superstar lineup for him!

So, it´s easy to win contests!

Posted by: tiagotricolorcardoso | January 2, 2011 6:00 PM | Report abuse

capscoach: Just drove through the snow to buy milk, and there was a picture of Backie on the carton.

Oh, also, what did you do to cstanton1?

CF75: Shift of the axis? I hope not. But, just in case, I have about 125 bottles of wine in the coolers. Whatever happens, I can "weather the storm" in the style I know best.

Anyone else watching football? These Toyotathon commercials need to stop.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 2, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, way worst than the 'save by zero' ones.

Posted by: guer_j | January 2, 2011 6:09 PM | Report abuse

If BB finally understands the importance of having a legit crash/energy line such as the Beagle/Steckel/Hendricks line which by far was the best line on the ice last night then I'll say there's hope for this team after all.

When Bradley comes back, I'd put him on that line instead of Steckel which would make that line even stronger.

However if BB sends Beagle back to the minors then it will be back to same ole BB leaning on your skill players all the time.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Is it time to start putting out "missing" posters for Backstrom? I think ovie would be scoring more if he had a center (ie. last seasons backstrom) to help him out a bit.
----------------------------------------------------------------

Gee does Backs make Ovi miss on breakaways ALL THE TIME against the Pens???

Just once I would love to see him score on one of those against the Pens, just ONCE!!!

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, BB will mix up the lines by Tuesday. He has a hang up about keeping any lines set. I think it helps him retain his "power" over certain players. Sorry, don't mean to be negative after a big win!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 2, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Ovi is he thinks he's the center as well as the LW and the RW on his line... he's simply all over the place.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Where's Fleischmann when you need him? 6 goals in his last 9 games.

Posted by: AlexVa1 | January 2, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Gee does Backs make Ovi miss on breakaways ALL THE TIME against the Pens???

Just once I would love to see him score on one of those against the Pens, just ONCE!!!

Posted by: joek443

at least he is getting opportunities! Backstrom might as well phone it in the way he is playing (offensively)

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Where's Fleischmann when you need him? 6 goals in his last 9 games.

Posted by: AlexVa1 | January 2, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse
---------------------------

@AlexVa1

Flash was helpful in getting us the Prez Cup but was useless in the playoffs. And in the Olympics.

Let's see him get 6 in 9 in the playoffs, then the point of your post will be taken.


Posted by: justbrewit | January 2, 2011 7:19 PM | Report abuse

at least he is getting opportunities! Backstrom might as well phone it in the way he is playing (offensively)
---------------------------------------------------------------

Ovi is absolutely useless on the ice when he's not contributing offensively. Yeah he can hit but he can't kill penalties nor can he guard anyone.

Backs on the other hand can help you in numerous ways even when he's not putting up points.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Beagle is done in Hershey, I don't think he gets sent back. Gordons got to be the odd man out at this point.

Posted by: underpants2 | January 2, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

BTW Ovi ONLY has 5 more points than Backs, on pace for 10 more points (6 more goals) in the whole season basically.

With those numbers I'd take Backs over Ovi every time if I had to choose one.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 7:35 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

Even though I don't think you said so, it is ridiculous to think that the Caps/Pens is not a huge rivalry right now. Who cares what happened in 1990, just the past 4 years, and Sid and Ovie has made it into a rivalry. Yes, the Pens won the only playoff series so far, but the Caps are 8-0-2 and 6-0 in Pittsburgh in their last games.

I think the best way to look at it is, if you were a Pens fan, which Eastern Conference team would you least like to face in the playoffs. I think it would undoubtably be the Caps.

The Pens have long owned the Flyers recently, but have struggled against the Caps. Pens fans are fine with facing the Flyers, and probably any other Eastern Conference team. But facing the Caps would give them the most worry.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 2, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

@joek

my point is that Backs and knuble are not doing there job making it much harder for Ovie to do his...he is constantly being forced to carry the puck all by himself. There is no flow to that line anymore.

Of course Ovie is also having a rough season, and it is not all the fault of his line mates...he shares much of the responsibility, but if Backs can't score and Knuble is getting left behind constantly, it leaves the other teams easily able to double team ovie without the consequence of someone else scoring.

And the argument about Ovie on the PK is silly...he could learn to be an effective PKer, but he would be wasted there and much more prone to injury.

And Backs has been INVISIBLE lately! that is unacceptable for a player of his caliber and pay grade. Ovie has plenty of issues to work on, but at least he is doing something. Hitting and getting chances. Backstrom is barely touching the puck and he is not even getting back on D all that quick to make up for his lack of production. He has been DECENT in 1 area and that is the PK...which he does not spend that much time on. (it is not his specialty)

I have no problem with u critiszing ov (though you do it constantly whether he is having a good season or not), but to pretend that Backs does not also deserve a critique shows how blindsided you are.

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I will say this again, Flash was overly criticized by many people on this board. I thought and still think the Hannan for Flash trade was a good trade for the Caps. It was not because Flash isn't a good 2nd line/1st line player. Flash is a very good overall player who is showing that in Colorado. Based on some of the posters here, you would have thought Flash only had AHL talent.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 2, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I love how Bealge is playing and if he continues with his play, there is no way you can take him off the 4th line. He has been playing like a portotypical awesome 4th liner.

However, when Bradley and BGordon come back somebody will have to come out of the lineup. So who comes out?

I know the first instinct is to remove Steckel, but his faceoff prowess is very important. During last night's game he won a lot of defensive zone faceoffs, especially on the PK when it is that much more important.

Maybe more importantly thought, Steckel won the initial faceoff against Crosby. So when Bylsma says before the game starts "Sid, you are going to win the faceoff" and only prepares accordingly, that blew up in their face(even thought no goals came from it).

@tominsocal1

Honestly, I think BB outcoached Bylsma last night. I'm interested to see 24/7, but it seemed that Bylsma assumed the Caps would play dangerously and make turnovers and give them chances. However, that never happened with the Caps new defensive system. I think BB deserves some credit for the Winter Classic win.

In addition, BB keeps on whining and moaning about the need to not make any silly passes at the offensive blue line and to get it in deep. The Caps are doing a much better job of that now. Semin seems like the only one who hasn't bought into that yet.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 2, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

@SGM3

I think BB deserves credit for keeping the caps in line for that game...they didn't try to make risky plays at the top of the paint that could lead to turnovers (minus the malkin one:) they got pucks deep and played smart.

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 8:24 PM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/02/AR2011010202375.html
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Finally an article worth reading on here

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/02/AR2011010202375.html
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Finally an article worth reading on here

Posted by: joek443

That's because Tarik wrote it. Sorry to be a "hater" but Katie doesn't hold a candle to him.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | January 2, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

And the argument about Ovie on the PK is silly...he could learn to be an effective PKer, but he would be wasted there and much more prone to injury
-------------------------------------------------------

LOL why don't you go look up the all time NHL shorthanded goal list? You won't see many defensive "specialists" on it.

You'll see Gretzky, Lemieux and Messier on top of the list. You think those guys were able to get on the list by just playing on the PP and in even strength??

When Mario started killing penalties, he was still the most dangerous offensive threat on the ice even when his team was shorthanded.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Remember during one game last year, I think it was a playoff game against Montreal when Backs blocked back to back shots during a PK?

Things like that are a lot more important than any empty net goals Ovi scores. Quite frankly I have no idea why BB puts him out there in those situations when he won't during PK.

Isn't that pretty much the definition of cherry-picking??

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

hey capscoach?

Doesn't that article by Tarik pretty much destroy your assertion that it's Backs' fault that Ovi can't score goals???

Just like tmac always says on here Ovi doesn't have high hockey IQ.

We shall see if Ovi ever adjusts or remains stubborn and unproductive.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 9:23 PM | Report abuse

@fanhock
@gratefuldid
@tom in blizzard cali

You were not with us on those long silent trips back home after all of those home playoff loses. (I got home at 4am after Lafontaine scored at Easter and never went to sleep.) We're worn down. We know what kind of guts and skill it takes to win in the playoffs, because our team never seemed to have enough of one or the other.

I remain a fan because like Tom said "they're not my grandfather's Caps" However, people need to realize that during all of this play off failure, we could see what it took to succeed and move on. These guys need to approach these playoffs like it's the last time they'll ever suit up. No more next year's. No more excuses. No more players unable to sleep because they did not "max. out" on the ice.

Make the playoff "hell" on other teams and their fans! This serious stuff to those of us who go back to '74. Many have quit on the Caps. I try and hammer home the need to build a "playoff winning team". Lord knows I've watched enough of them celebrate on our ice !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't care what happened in the Classic.
I want someone to "step up" and contain Syd in the playoffs. I want to hear that someone other than Ovi is gonna' break Richards in half if he camps in the slot.
I want guys that are willing to use any and all means necessary to get pucks past that fruity Ranger's goalie. Let's win this damn thing, or die trying.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

@fanhock
@tom in the snow
@grate

Sorry if I'm so negative. It's been a rough 36 years. At least, lets die trying !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

hunterforcoach:

you don't have to apologize or explain your logic.

i am with you 100%.

in fact, i am bothered by the fact that BB referred to the classic as "close to the stanley cup".

no it's not.

i watched our first shutout as a franchise back in 1974........and i am not going anywhere as a fan.

i will take hunterforcoach's passion and "want to" any day of the week.

i hope our GM and coach and players have that "want to" come the spring this time around.

Posted by: capitalsfan47802 | January 2, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Well today is not the playoffs - that stuff is all in the past.

What I am most proud of is that the Caps took it to the Pens and punched them in the mouth in this WC game.

Don't believe them (Pens) when they say it was not important to them The HBO thing made it more important. Its the same as if the Ravens went and in and took one from the Steelers...the losing hurts.

We cant go back and change 2009 or 1996 or whatever but today it feels good to be a Caps fan and I dont think any team can beat us if we play our game as we plan it.

Teams will come harder at us if you can imagine that - but as I was thinking last night bring it on...I want the Caps to get there beating the best at their best so nobody can claim we got a break or a free ride.

If we win the Southeast Division it will not be because the Lightning lose games to other teams its will be because they cant beat Washington....thats what I want all the way to June.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 2, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I like how Malkin implies that the caps over celebrated last night when we won, yet after his goal to make it 1 to 0 he jumped into his own bench to celebrate. How often do you see that?

Would like to hear from the Pens why they didnt shake hands. Not a huge deal, but I think they have done that for all the other winter classics.

Someone said this isnt a rivlary? What a joke. These teams hate each other and its obvious to anyone who watches them play.

I think people need to give BB some credit on here for completely changing the style we play. During this little run we are on, we are playing nothing like the last few seasons - I think this will be huge in April and May.

Still enjoying that win today and cant wait for the new 24/7.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | January 2, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I think Katie's doing a great job, she's a welcome addition. TEB seems like a nice guy and works hard but either he's not confident enough in his hockey knowledge [or the alternative] to question mgmt or coaching decisions, other than 'which goalie should start.'

Btw, I love how all the Flash-haters have been so quiet of late, now that he's lighting it up in CO. Everyone - well, not all, but a lot - said how bad he'd do, 'on a team with so little offensive talent.' yeah, he and Duchesne have been brutal out there, alright. And all with Stas and Duke on the IR for most of his time there.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 2, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

I know the "recent" history. The Pens are an organization that builds play off teams.
So, are the Flyers. It will not be easy getting past either team. Be humble !

It is gonna' be ugly.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

@hunterforcoach

I am certain that Pens fans don't think there is much of a rivalry since they hold all the aces when it comes to gloating even though we have owned them in the regular season. However, the actions of the team itself, especially their elementary school "taking our puck and going home" exit from the ice last night, demonstrate that they, at least, take these games more seriously than against other teams.

As for "heart and character", what game were you watching last night? Malkin scores on the kind of defensive breakdown that has killed the Caps under BB, the Pens and the crowd go apes*** and our boys are in the hole on a bad surface in the rain. Did you see any heads down for long? Did you see anyone give up? Did you see guys stop scrapping, stop cycling, stop working? Hell no. Instead you saw one of the most effort-filled periods of the season.

Now, to give you your due, when the Pens scored I changed the channel for a few minutes. I thought for a moment it was the beginning of the end. My one-year old daughter was watching with me - her first glimpse of Caps hockey (I live in Wisconsin and don't have cable) - and I didn't want to be yelling at the TV in front of her...yet. After about 5 minutes though I realized that I was also likely to miss the Caps scoring the equalizer, and how crappy that would feel, so I turned it back on just in time to see Ovie celebrating after Kanoobs scored. That's what I get for losing faith.

For the rest of the game I watched a team playing a totally different kind of game, a playoff kind of game. And they committed to it. And they were good at it. This was the first game I've seen where I could tell what the young guys from Hershey are bringing to the Caps. Watching Matty P get hung up by two Pens at the blue line, dump the puck and fight through the defense to be the first to the puck gave me goosebumps. Watching Carlzner playing like MEN out there was pure bliss. These guys are used to winning, used to grinding it out to win a playoff series, used to "giving a crap". I have no doubt their effort has pushed the more veteran players in practice.

This is not the same Caps team we've Rocked the Red for the past couple of years. Our captain sets the tone of the game with a big, legal, hit instead of a one-man-show goal. Our POTG is a guy most people outside DC probably have never heard of. As RMNB pointed out, they played a trap after getting a two goal lead. They've been "figured out" and they've responded, BB as well, by re-inventing themselves. You can caution all you like, it's your prerogative. But me, I'm not going to hold back. Win or lose I love this team and think they're the best team in the league.

Posted by: nkeitt | January 2, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

How about a shout-out to Johnny C while we're at it, what a freaking d-man!!! Not even old enough to drink, and he's playing against the other team's best forwards, yikes! Led all Caps in ice-time, once again, despite not getting [IMHO] enough PP time. That two-hander Crysby gave him at the end needs to recalled next time we meet!

Speaking of Capt. America, how about Team USA, lighting it up in the world jrs - let's go defend gold boys, big game tomorrow! Get ready for some typical head-hunting by a couple of the Canucks - and PJ Maguire to whitewash it, as per usual.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 2, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

They mentioned tonight Orlov and Kuznetzov are two of Rus's best players - that is saying something, their coaching these days seems abysmal at the national team level but they can definitely still produce talent with the best of 'em. Somebody needs to get Putin the heck away from their hockey program, he's killing it.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 2, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Russia and Finland are in overtime now in the World Juniors. The Russians trailed 3-1 with about 2 minutes to go, and Kuznetsov essentially took the game over, scoring once and carrying the puck through the whole Finland team for an assist on the tying goal.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

@Timbo

We watched Flash for maybe 100 game hours. He has no heart, and will wither when the D gets suffocating this spring. Come on, you watched the Habs series!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

@nkeitt
I think most pens fans think that since things usually always work out for them that it will somehow...by the spring. Its not even arrogance because lately (the last few years) they have been mostly right -

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 2, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Kuznetsov just won it for the Russians.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Kuznetsov was a beast the last 3 minutes of the third and in OT. Pretty much carried the team to the win. Can't wait to see him in Caps red.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 2, 2011 10:09 PM | Report abuse

@nkeitt

The 'heart and character" comment comes from the "lenghty bar room brawls" that all the old Patrick Division playoff series turned into. Those guys are still playing that kind of "black eye" hockey.

We've never been able to hold up through 7 games as well as the Potvin Isles, Pens, Flyers, and Messier Rangers. We're fine in ONE game. Do it for a month, like the Flyers did last year.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

@Timbo
Russian National program coaching has been awful.... 2 years ago the Russians had Canada juniors beat and the wrong type of players on the ice protecting a lead coughed puck up and they got scored on with less than 5 seconds in game...then lost in OT.

Also have to question some of the decisions in the Olympics last February for Russia.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 2, 2011 10:10 PM | Report abuse

@capsfan4782

The BB remark about Stanley bothered me too. I did not want to bring it up, because
I'm considered too negative.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Timbo, it is a very interesting Russian team. I see maybe 5 high skill guys and 5 others who look like they can't play at the World Juniors level. They play no discernible team concept. The skill guys just try to go 1-on-1 (or 1-on-4 sometimes), maybe because they don't trust the skill of their teammates or maybe due to bad coaching.

Kuznetsov sure looks like a young Semin. Fabulous skill, but he took a horrible retaliation penalty (jamming a Finn's head into the glass) giving the Finns a 5-on-3 PP. The TV commentators speculated that the Caps might let Semin go to make room for Kuznetsov. But Kuznetsov is a legit center, and I'd like to try them on the same line.

I predict the Russians get crushed tomorrow by the Swedes, who definitely play as a team and are well rested. The Swedes look like the best team in the tournament to me.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

BB should have said that the WC experience and post game attention was like a Superbowl. I get what he was meaning but he used the wrong words. It was one of the most anticipated Caps games that we won. Second to the Joe Juneau clicher in 1998 for the East Final.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 2, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I hope many of you caught the Russia - Finland WJHC game. What an insane comeback by the Russians! With 4 minutes left, down by 2 we looked dead & buried. Then Caps prospect Kuznetsov just absolutely took the game into his own hands & won it almost singlehandedly! Russia's team play leaves a lot to be desired, but that was a mighty impressive individual feat of brilliance & the most amazing performance by any player in this year's tournament so far. Kuznetsov's coast to coast rush for the tying goal was just dirrrrty!

Posted by: ranndino | January 2, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

The TV commentators speculated that the Caps might let Semin go to make room for Kuznetsov. But Kuznetsov is a legit center, and I'd like to try them on the same line.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maybe he's a young Malkin then, we can live with that. Quite frankly most of us would prefer that.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

@zmega

I turned it on at the end of regulation and Kuznetsov looked like a man among boys. He likely needs another year of seasoning(to gain strength and get more practice), especially with the lack of open roster spots on the Caps, but he looks like a possible 1st line player.

It's very nice to have him in the system. It bodes well for the Caps future.

----
People are making way too big of a deal out of BB's comment. People have to stop overanalyzing every little comment a player or coach makes.

It was just a comparison, and accurate, to the amount of people watching and media attention the game had. The only other NHL games with as much media attention and TV audience is the Stanley Cup Finals. Right or wrong, it is what it is.

I think the game was important because it showed the Caps could rise up and play well when faced with a lot scrutiny and a lot of pressure.

Does it mean they will win this April and May? No. But it gives you better hope that they won't falter under the pressure in April and May, and maybe they will draw upon this game as a way to play when faced with a lot of pressure.

I say this because when I was listening to Ollie the Goalie yesterday he spoke about how in the NHL playoffs, during tough situations, he thought about and drew confidence from his accomplishments in the playoffs in the AHL. So he looked at how he handled other high pressure situations in which he succeeded and that gave him confidence in his ability to succeed. He said that helped him a lot.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 2, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Great piece of writing by Tarik. Finally the local media has brought this up, and it only took until what... the midway point of the season?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/02/AR2011010202375.html?sid=ST2011010203564

Posted by: BigGameSid | January 2, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but I feel the need to post once more about this. If this was a Canadian player who did what Kuznetsov just did Pierre McGuirre would have a neverending orgasm on national TV. It's as if Kuznetsov just said, "OK kids, enough of this BS, daddy's in the house". Just wow!

Posted by: ranndino | January 2, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

@BiggameSid

Does the average Pens fan consider the Caps a rival ? Be honest !

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 2, 2011 10:53 PM | Report abuse

oh man, I DVR just about every hockey game. I just finished watching the Canadien JRs vs the Swiss, and am right near the end of the 1st period of the Flyers against the Red Wings. I am watching the games in chronological order so I don't see final scores at the bottom of the screen. Now you guys start talking about the Russian vs Finland game that I wasn't planning on starting until midnight. C'mon people, am I only person that uses today's technology to overdose with sports? Now the Russian game is ruined, just ruined. At least my wife will be glad that I won't be up until 2am.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 2, 2011 10:56 PM | Report abuse

@ranndino
You are so right...about McGuire - they were dissing Kuznetsov for most of the game for not stepping up - oh well.... probably still stuck on his man crush Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith from last years playoffs

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 2, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse

@hunterforcoach

I never tire of reading what you have to say....somehow, someway, someday we'll get there

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 2, 2011 11:04 PM | Report abuse

@ BigGameSid

Agree 100%. I've been saying it to my friends, as well. Ovie needs to stop being stubborn & adjust his game. There's a reason the NHL is the best league in the world. Players & coaches find ways to counteract even the best players. They've figured him out. Now it's his turn to counteract that.

Posted by: ranndino | January 2, 2011 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Fanohock, watch the last 5 minutes of regulation and the overtime of the Russia-Finland game anyway - you won't regret it.

Posted by: zmega | January 2, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

You only have yourself to blame. If you're not watching games live & don't want spoilers don't hang out on hockey forums till you're done. That's what I do. I don't go on any forums related to hockey, stay away from twitter & even Facebook. It takes real dedication to not have stuff spoiled :)

Posted by: ranndino | January 2, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I believe the powers that be will try and grab the cup with everything they have. Assets will be moved. Winter Classic, over. 24/7, gone. Semin's window, open. They are winning without 8,19 and 28. Greens playing the best hockey of his career.

I have been a fan for 25 brutal years. Last night, in Pittsburgh, 25k plus Caps fans invaded that place. It was amazing to see.

Pittsburgh fans in general, travel with impunity. They fill opposing teams stadiums. How many "poser" Pittsburgh fans do we all know? Last night, IMO, for their first time ever, in ANY sport, their town was invaded. Pittsburgh fans are stunned a bit today. It was great to be a part of it.

PS. Caps and Pens are rivals. To suggest they are not is beyond absurd. Right now, their rivalry is saving this sport.

Posted by: underpants2 | January 2, 2011 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Just what the Caps don't need is another another young Russian All Star who does not play within a system. They already have enough of them. In other words the Caps will win the Cup when OV stops leading the league in shots and plays more inside a system which I think he is trying to do. I've always liked Herb Brook's quote on how he was going to beat the Soviets using their own system back then in "Miracle".

"All-star teams fail because they rely solely on the individual's talent. The Soviets win because they take that talent and use it inside a system that's designed for the betterment of the team. My goal is to beat 'em at their own game." And Herb and his boys did.

Posted by: dull | January 2, 2011 11:22 PM | Report abuse

"Just what the Caps don't need is another another young Russian All Star who does not play within a system"

@dull

Why do you assume that Kuznetsov doesn't play within a system? Is it because he is a talented Russian or do you have some other inside information that isn't solely based on a stereotype.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 3, 2011 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Pierre McGuire's Instant Analysis video highlight breaks down how the Cody Eakin was key in Canada's 4-1 win over Switzerland.
http://www.tsn.ca/world_jrs/

Posted by: dull | January 3, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

1) If Pierre McGuire ever does have a "never-ending orgasm" as someone speculated above, please advise in advance so I can be at least two time zones away.

2) Caps played the WC game as well as any of us said all summer they should do. Let's give credit where credit is due.

3) It IS a rivalry. If not between the fans, it is between Sid and Ovi.

4) Yes, I'm really afraid Ovi is "challenged" a bit in the gray matter arena. Carlson and Green I'm afraid have the same "issue." We must face the facts that we have several dull bulbs on the Christmas tree lights. Backie isn't much better. OK, so McPhee picked lots of guys who maybe rode the short bus. But they are our players and like a mother we must love them.

sgm: Yes, BB finally outcoached someone. I am thinking as we bemoaned the team's style all summer, in the background they were actually trying to change. It isn't easy. All of these players were trained in the "right way" from 6 years old but then too many (Ovi, Semin) did whatever they wanted since they had more skill than their neighborhood coach could contain. Now they are being reined in. It isn't pretty, but it's essential.

I am really liking the effect Hannan is having on Alzner and when the midia publicizes it you can recall that you heard it from me first.

timbo: re Flash. Some here merely bashed him but most of us said he was a worthy 1/2 line LW. WE just had (have) too many snipers. Also, as many have pointed out, let's see him do it when the lights are turned up. Flash in his career has been unable to converting low pressure time success to the the big stage. The next time he has a big goal will be the first one.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 3, 2011 12:58 AM | Report abuse

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=55895
total time 2:38
make sure to watch 1:18 through 1:38

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA3fgRgM1HI
total time 9:56
6:56 -> 7:45 (and 9:09 -> 9:15)

no one (or team) has ever celebrated a winter classic win where everyone comes on the ice when it ends - it just doesn't happen (and they don't shake hands either)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 3, 2011 1:05 AM | Report abuse

One final thought, before turning the page on 1/2/11, I'd like to GIVE IT UP once more for...

JOHNNY E!!!!!!!!!

Yes, he set the tone with that fight. I gotta figure the coach (BB) understands what we can see THROUGH the television. Ersk BEAT UP Rupp and we all saw it! That basically put the ka-bash on Pens players like Maxi-Pad Towel-butt! And what the he!! did Orprick contribute? Yes, same as I saw --- LESS THAN NOTHING!

Let's face it, the Pens played like female body parts. Sorry, ladies, but that's no knock on you - just on the Pens.

I don't think the Pens are nearly as good as they've displayed so far. Their secondary scoring is questionable and the D is not 16-game worthy in the spring. At least it's interesting.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 3, 2011 1:14 AM | Report abuse

@Vermont

Those of us who had to deal with all the "heartbreak" of the past playoffs, have
to drag everybody (including Ted) toward thinking that ONLY "playoff type" guys are to wear a Caps jersey. I don't care what you looked like in the Euro-elite league, if you can't score ugly goals too, you're not wanted on this roster. If you're 6 foot 4 inches, and a 5'11' Mike Richards can check you off the puck, you're not wanted here.

Cody Eakin is the "model" for the type of player we need here for a cup run. This organization needs to get as nasty and committed as the Flyers, Wings, and Pens.
(Yes, the Wings can be nasty! )The fans need to demand players who always play with passion and drive. Enough of the "half assed" play off efforts. Let's win this thing or die trying. If you don't want to die for the cup, go to play for the Avs ! (#4 set a tone early. I loved it. Give him the "C")

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 3, 2011 1:42 AM | Report abuse

@Vermont

Those of us who had to deal with all the "heartbreak" of the past playoffs, have
to drag everybody (including Ted) toward thinking that ONLY "playoff type" guys are to wear a Caps jersey. I don't care what you looked like in the Euro-elite league, if you can't score ugly goals too, you're not wanted on this roster. If you're 6 foot 4 inches, and a 5'11' Mike Richards can check you off the puck, you're not wanted here.

Cody Eakin is the "model" for the type of player we need here for a cup run. This organization needs to get as nasty and committed as the Flyers, Wings, and Pens.
(Yes, the Wings can be nasty! )The fans need to demand players who always play with passion and drive. Enough of the "half assed" play off efforts. Let's win this thing or die trying. If you don't want to die for the cup, go to play for the Avs ! (#4 set a tone early. I loved it. Give him the "C")

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 3, 2011 1:42 AM | Report abuse

i really liked the ways the boys have been playing lately. they are taking it seriously now and they are believing in or at least buying into a new style of play.

i really liked it when Eddie O said in the third period "it's like the caps have set up a white picket fence in the neutral zone."

if we could actually get our PP going we would be sitting pretty. let's see now if they can maintain this new attitude and style of play.

i think all the high priced players need to take the grinders out for a nice dinner because they are saving our bacon right now.

let's keep it up boys, there's a long way to go!

Posted by: natresgroup | January 3, 2011 2:01 AM | Report abuse

I do like that the backliners are leading the way as to playing a defense-first system. Now, I would like to see a few top-liners buy into the system more (umm Semin and OV, and Backis a bit, too). MP is playing great and MaJo has looked pretty good, too.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 3, 2011 7:40 AM | Report abuse

@Hunter You said go play for the AVS last time I checked they have 2 cups!

Posted by: koppleschloss | January 3, 2011 8:11 AM | Report abuse

guys - it was anice win but it was just one win in a long season. no hardware was or playoff advancement was attained - nothing.

and I have to been to many Caps games and other stdiums/arenas where the fans arent arent always as gracious a winner as they could be - happens in every town including DC so why bring up a few sore losers?

Posted by: pressconf | January 3, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

guys - it was anice win but it was just one win in a long season. no hardware was or playoff advancement was attained - nothing.

Posted by: pressconf | January 3, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

As a Pens' fan I can assure you that while the Caps' rivalry is a good one, the Flyers' rivalry is a great one.
Its just the whole introstate Pittsburgh vs Philly thing.
Congrats to the Caps...they played the entire game with more urgency than the Pens did.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | January 3, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

"As a Pens' fan I can assure you that while the Caps' rivalry is a good one, the Flyers' rivalry is a great one.
Its just the whole introstate Pittsburgh vs Philly thing.
Congrats to the Caps...they played the entire game with more urgency than the Pens did."
Posted by: BigDaddy651 | January 3, 2011 8:58 AM

There is no such word as "introstate".

Another example of any uneducated son of a steelworker trying to speak the language.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | January 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

So let me see if I understand the rules of the game. The poster who can be the most negative gets to act like he is the smartest. Is that the gist of it?

And anybody who thinks there isn't a rivalry between the Caps and Penguins is an absolute idiot (or the smartest man in the room if you're playing the above game.) When Max Talbot says when the schedule came out that the game he circled on his calendar was the December 23rd game in Washington you know it is a rivalry. He didn't say the Winter Classic. He said the first meeting. It may not be the biggest rivalry ever but the Pens and Caps think it's big. And everybody else thinks it's big (except for the aforementioned smartest men in the room.)

Posted by: ouvan59 | January 3, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

all I can add is a first person account of all the comments I heard at the Classic this weekend:

"why, god, why did we have to lose to the Caps of all people"
"why did you have to be a caps fan when you can be a fan of any team.." (before the game even)

hmm seems like a bit of vitrol there.

I have to say my favorite part of the game was when the Pittsburgh fans harrassed the two flyers fans in front of me who were being jerks while walking home. I can enjoy any good Flyers smack down. Even after defeat, those guys had a my Caps clad back against the Flyers.

If anyone from Pitt is reading here I have to say THANK YOU for such a nice weekend. I thought the fans I met were really great and welcoming (as much as you can be to the rival team:) There was some ribbing on the way out, but I never felt uncomfortable so thanks for being great hosts... it was just some nice laid back smack talk which was in-all-in quite fun. I left with a great deal of respect for Pens fans (and I usually see this at our games as well, so thanks for that; The Flyers fans could take some notes on how to increase tourism!)

Posted by: kmr2r | January 3, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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