October 16, 2008
(Ed. Note: Whenever Crosby, Ovechkin and their respective teams meet, it's a time to celebrate. To preview each game this regular season (and hopefully beyond), we'll invite a Capitals blogger and a Penguins blogger to give their impressions of one of the NHL's
only premiere marquee player matchups.)
Now that the Washington Capitals are division champions and the Pittsburgh Penguins are conference champions, there's really no damn reason why every single regular season battle between these two teams isn't on national U.S. television.
Yet tonight's game pitting Sidney Crosby against Alexander Ovechkin is available on RDS in Canada, Comcast in D.C. and FSN in Pittsburgh. Great news for those with Center Ice PPV; not so great for casual hockey fans who'd actually make time their lives to see this game. (Although you can watch the game online here at Yahoo!)
Of all the arguments for the NHL going back to ESPN, here's a basic one even we can agree with: If it means ESPN2 gets every Crosby/Ovechkin game that Versus can't squeeze in between buck hunting and the actually-not-horrible Sports Soup, then let's crawl back to Bristol and kiss Barnaby's feet.
The fact of the matter is that beyond Sid. v. Ovie, this matchup could be the NHL's best and most marketable team rivalry. The Confluence of the Three Rivers believes the Caps are the Penguins' top foes:
Penguins vs. Capitals has now transcended your run of the mill hockey matchup. The majority of the games are national broadcasts (tonight's game not withstanding). Even though the players themselves will downplay a personal dislike, whether that's Ovie vs. Sid, or even Russian comrades Ovie vs. Geno, those world-class hockey players take it up to even a higher notch when the Pens and Caps get together.
Indeed. So in celebration of tonight's game, we've asked two elite bloggers from either side to offer their thoughts on what the Crosby vs. Ovechkin rivalry means to them: JP from the Caps-centric Japers' Rink and Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters.
Frankly (and I'll probably get my Caps fan/blogger card revoked for this), I've always been more intrigued by the "Ovechkin vs. Malkin" rivalry more - fellow countrymen who went one-two in the same draft (and in last year's Hart voting) and who clearly aren't the best of buddies (tearful moments and Russian Village People auditions aside). The two just seem to have more of a natural (and willing) rivalry than the media-created one between Ovechkin and Crosby.
But since we're talking Sid and Alex, we're talking about the highest-profile individual rivalry taking place right smack-dab in the middle of one of the NHL's better (admittedly one-sided) rivalries between two of the League's most exciting young teams. Does it get any better? Gary Bettman sure hopes not.
While they might shy away from it publicly, Crosby-Ovechkin (or is it Ovechkin-Crosby?) is easily the NHL's most compelling rivalry between two players.
Avery-Brodeur might be nastier, but it was born out of Avery simply being a jerk. Crosby-Ovechkin is based on elite talent. They can give us the standard, dry, "This is a team game" comment all they want and tell us they don't really care about the other, but anyone who has seen these two on the same rink at the same time will tell you each picks up their game when the other is present.