If these two teams didn’t have these superstars on their roster, would it even be considered a watchable game? Not quite. These two are arguably 1A and 1B in terms of the best hockey players in the world right now, but it hasn’t always been that way.
Whether it was Crosby’s health issues or Ovechkin’s adapting to yet another system under a new head coach, this rivalry has certainly cooled down since the fantastic seven-game series in the 2009 playoffs, but I have a feeling that it’s just starting to heat up again.
There is no love lost between these two teams, and that dates back to the days of Adam Oates and Mario Lemiuex. With the Capitals being in the same division as the Penguins, you can expect some phenomenal battles between these two clubs for years to come. With that comes hostility and hatred. Granted, the Caps vs. Pens might not be as intense as the Philadelphia Flyers vs. the Penguins, but it would rank up there amongst the great current NHL rivalries.
Not only are the two teams starting to return back to the form that made those 2009 matchups so great, but the two superstars are finally dominating once again. Last season, it was Crosby who was the dominant force before breaking his jaw at the end of the season, and it was Ovechkin that took advantage of Crosby’s prolonged absence in 2012 and dominated the NHL scoring race.
This year, both are healthy and firing on all cylinders. Crosby is tied for the NHL lead in points with 26 as Ovechkin sits two behind with 24. Ovechkin is tied for most goals in the NHL with 17. Simply put, these two superstars are playing at the game’s highest level and dominating.
The Capitals and Penguins get prepared to face off again to see who will take sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins sit atop the division with 26 points, and the red-hot Capitals in second with 25.
I know one this is for sure — when these two players in are in the lineup, don’t change the channel.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz