Monday, January 5, 2009

Elevating a rivalry

In case you missed it, Shoane Morrisonn dropped this gem of a quote on us today:

"Pittsburgh plays more of a skilled game. Philly has skill, too; they are a great team. But Philly plays physical. It's a different game than against Pittsburgh. Those two teams have both been big rivals, but right now I think Philly is the biggest."

The Penguins are no longer the Capitals' biggest rival?

Morrisonn may be on to something here. Think about this: Before Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby stepped onto NHL ice, they were scheduled to be rivals throughout their careers.

Games against the Penguins are hyped by the NHL and other media outlets as "Ovechkin vs. Crosby, battle of the phenoms!"

While the allure of a Crosby vs. Ovechkin matchup is intriguing, it seems many forget that this is a team sport, and if there is any team that provides the largest hurdle for the Capitals it is now the Flyers, not the Penguins.

The Flyers and Capitals had one of the most entertaining series in the entire playoffs last season: a seven-game showcase of Flyers might versus Capitals skill.

The series provided a new breed of villains for Capitals fans in Mike Richards, Daniel Briere, Joffrey Lupul, Scott Upshall and Scott Hartnell. The Flyers fans adopted the mantra of "Vengeance Now!" while Capitals fans embraced "Rock the Red."

The series wasn't just between two great hockey teams but also two re-energized fan bases.

In the end, it was the Flyers who bested the Capitals in a seven-game series. To add insult to injury, the Flyers beat the Capitals in front of a red-filled Verizon Center to advance farther into the playoffs.

While the Capitals have been frustrated by the Penguins before, overcoming a team that plays a polar opposite brand of hockey provides a more entertaining matchup and a considerable challenge.


  1. I think I've been in a steady harmonic oscillation for twenty years about which team is Capitals enemy #1. Lately they flip faster than ever. The lines of disdain have become so blurry for me that it's nearly impossible for me to distinguish the two.


  2. I think for this group of Capitals players, the Flyers leave a bigger wound than the Penguins, hence their hatred.


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