Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CK's Guide to Hatin' the Pens

With the Washington Redskins' season complete and the Wizards as bad as they are, it's only natural that the Capitals will be the benefactors of being the only team in D.C. worth watching. So it is our pleasure to offer this F.A.Q. about the Capitals' most storied rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New fans, get out your pencils and notebooks; it's time to learn why we hate the Penguins.

Where did it all begin?
Some say it was when the Capitals were part of the Patrick Division, others during the playoffs, but they are both right.

What's this about a "Patrick Division?"
Starting in 1983, the Caps were divisional rivals with the Flyers, Pens, Devils, Islanders and Rangers. After the 1992-1993 season, the NHL divisions were changed based on locality and the Patrick Division became the Atlantic Division but the teams remained the same until 1997.

So why are the Caps no longer in the Atlantic Division?
In 1997-1998, some idiot thought Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida would make a better division with the Caps, hence there is now the Southeast Division.

Golly, that's a pretty dumb idea! What's this you said about the playoffs?
The Capitals have appeared in the playoffs 19 times since their birth in 1974 and have faced the Penguins seven times in the postseason. Their only series victory over the Penguins was in 1994 in the quarterfinals, a series they won 4-2.

1-6 against the Pens in the playoffs? What happened?
The Caps blew a few 3-1 series leads and had to deal with the likes of Mario Lemiuex and Jaromir Jagr. 'Nuff said.

Why are the Penguins still relevant now? I thought we should hate the Flyers?
Well, you should "hate" the Flyers, but the Penguins have the longest playoff history with the Capitals. The Flyers have only faced the Capitals in the postseason four times, and the series between the two teams sits at 2-2. Truth be told, the Islanders have the second-longest playoff history (six meetings in postseason) with the Capitals but are not considered a heated rival by most.

I'm feeling the hate. What's this I hear about Pens fans taking over stadiums?
There's no lying. Penguins fans hate living in Pittsburgh, that's why they all flock to other locales and live there instead! Seasons ago, it was not uncommon for Caps fans to be outnumbered by Pens fans. With the increased amount of season tickets sold and the buzz around the team, it is unclear if the Pens will have as large a following as they have had. A credit to Pittsburgh fans is that it is not only Verizon Center they invade, but Pittsburgh fans seem to invade the stadiums for every major sport Pittsburgh is involved in.

Are Pens fans a bunch of drunken idiots?
Some are, but some Caps fans are too. In my experience, I've always had nice Pens fans who didn't mind a good chat about the game and were respectable to those around them. It is not uncommon to see a fight breakout in the 400 levels between opposing fans, but I've seen more incidents with Flyers fans than I ever have with Pittsburgh fans.

Which players should I be booing?
It is only natural that you should boo Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While many think the rivalry is between Crosby and Ovechkin, it is actually Ovechkin vs. Malkin. A new battle has emerged in Semin vs. Crosby after Alex Semin's interview with Puck Daddy.

What is this whooping sound I am hearing?
That's because former Capital Sergei Gonchar is holding the puck. It's generally used to taunt former Capitals that fans have lost respect for. It started with former Capital Larry Murphy. Some fans support whooping, others wish it would die.

The Pens fans around me are chanting "Let's Go Pens!" What do I do?
Chant Let's Go Caps! For some reason people think that chanting "Penguins suck" is a deterrent. Truth be told, silencing an opposing team's fans with support for your team will likely shut them up faster than acknowledging they are in the stands.

Do Caps fans and Penguins fans agree on anything?
The two teams hold a mutual hate for the Flyers, and some Pens fans dislike former Cap/Pen Jaromir Jagr but that's about it.

The Capitals won! What should I do?
Enjoy it.

The Capitals lost and I'm mad as hell. What should I do?
Go to the Capitals Message Board, create an account and complain.

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