Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Rivalry Is Officially On

The NHL has been pimping it for 4 seasons now, stories have floated around about cold feelings, and lord knows there is a ton of playoff history there, but until now it all felt a little forced. There should be no question anymore, Penguins-Capitals has definitely become a rivalry now thanks to the antics of one Alexander Ovechkin.

In case you missed it, the Pens dropped a very irritating and frustrating and worrisome game to the now-hated Caps, 6-3. Why was it irritating? Because Ovechkin, who had a monster night, was whooping and hollering and yelling at every chance he got tonight, doing his best to get under the Penguins' skin, and boy was he succeeding. Why was it frustrating? Because most of the Caps' goals, especially in the third period, were not very good goals, and continued to demonstrate the worrisome inconsistencies of Marc-Andre Fleury. It was also frustrating because the Caps committed a number of dumb penalties, and the pens just couldn't capitalize. Why was it worrisome? Because the Pens had about 10 healthy guys at the end of the game. Max Talbot, Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang, and (gulp) Sidney Crosby (genuflecting) all left the ice with injury concerns. Let's hope they are all okay, but all 4 looked to be at least semi-serious, and it goes without saying that losing Crosby for any amount of time would be disastrous.

As I said, this matchup, at least in my mind, has taken the spot of the second strongest rivalry the Pens have, behind of course just the Flyers. Of course it's not all Ovechkin. There's Alexander Semin's now famous disaparaging words about Sidney Crosby to consider. There's Ryan Whitney injuring Ovechkin a few years back, there's the cold war developing between Geno and Ovechkin with Crosby standing up for Geno any chance he gets. All in all, this really has the makings of a terrific rivalry, but that's really for another day and another game.

The fact remains that the Pens dropped yet another game after a nice showing yesterday against the Flyers. I just really wish this team could get itself straightened out. They continue to drive me up a wall with this inconsistency.

I know a lot of people lately have been harping on potentially firing Michel Therrien. And while Therrien also has a large amount of defenders that are in his corner, I think some sort of a change must be made. My suggestion is that this change needs to be in either getting rid of or reassigning Mike Yeo. Yeo is the guy in charge of the power play for the Penguins, and there is no denying that the Pens power play has been an absolute disaster of late. The Pens did manage a power play goal on 5 chances, but they also nearly gave up a short-handed goal on a 5-on-3 advantage. For a unit with as much talent as the Pens, there is no logical way that this team should rank 20th in the NHL. I think something should be done, and overhauling the power play is probably a good start.


Jacob said...

I agree about this new rivalry. After seeing that punk Ovechkin last night acting like an idiot, I was about ready to jump through my TV screen at him. This definitely won't just be a PR rivalry anymore.
To be honest it might just be me, but I still really hate the Rangers. It might have been negated a little bit because of the loss of Jags and Sean Avery, but I think the divisional heat combined with the fact that they actually have real fans who are fun to hate make them a better match as a rival than the Caps at least for now.

Peter said...

I would actually go to the opposite end of the spectrum of the previous poster. I think that, while the hatred between the fans could never be equaled, I think Pens-Caps on the ice could definitely surpass Pens-Flyers. I mean yeah that Pens have had a number of scuffles with the Flyers, but I'm not sure even Scott Hartnell gets my blood boiling quite like Ovechkin did last night.

Ryan said...

Jacob- I think you hit it on the head, the Rangers rivalry, while still heated, took a bit of a hit when Avery and Jagr left. When those 2 were there a year ago I hated them every bit as much as the Flyers. I think that's what puts the Caps ahead of the Rangers now.

Peter- I don't think there's any way that the Caps ever touch the Flyers IMO. And as much as I dislike AO, he's a regular Mr. Rogers compared to Hartnell, who is probably my least favorite player in hockey.