BEST VS. BEST
Ovie and Crosby entered league at same time and are always compared
YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO BE Alan Turing to decode Washington’s strategy during free agency: “If you can’t beat ’em, acquire ’em.” Pittsburgh has been a lopsided rival for the Capitals and new Washington GM Brian MacLellan must have been well aware of this when he snagged Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen on the open market after the Pens let them walk.
Ever since Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby entered the league at the same time, Washington-Pittsburgh was a perfect showpiece rivalry for the NHL, especially when the league needed to get back in the good graces of the American public. Winter Classics, games of the week and playoff battles followed, but only the Penguins found playoff glory, reaching the final in 2008 and winning the next season, eliminating the Caps along the way in a classic series. Washington has yet to get past the second round.
For a while, Ovechkin had a vicious hate-on for Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, but the Russian stars made peace at the 2009 All-Star Game.
The two teams meet Dec. 27, Jan. 28, Feb. 17 and Feb. 25.