brendan-witt-deadguins

Photo credit: @Whitemooseranch

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins renew their rivalry at 8pm tonight. I’m very excited. Also, excited: former Caps defenseman Brendan Witt who just posted this selfie of himself on Twitter.

We’ve been getting scores of pictures all day of people rocking the Deadguins shirt (buy it here). It’s only appropriate we put them up. Tweet us your pics !

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No One Cares About Penguins-Capitals Games Anymore

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The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals used to be a big deal, but that was a long time ago. It’s over now– Caps vs Pens is just #anothergame. When the world’s best playmaker, Sidney Crosby, faces off against the world’s best scorer, Jason Chimera Alex Ovechkin, all we can muster now is a yawn.

I can’t even remember the time Crosby and Ovechkin scored matching hat tricks in May of 2009. I have just the vaguest memory of comparing Alex’s three Hart Trophies to Sidney’s one, or comparing Sidney’s Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold to Alex’s really hot and altogether delightful fiancée. I couldn’t recall the Snowvechkin game if you dropped 75 inches of snow on me. And would someone please give me a quick refresher course on the time or seven the Penguins knocked the Capitals out of the playoffs over the last 25 years?

That’s my attempt at a counter-counter media narrative. I’m doing the sarcasm thing again, sorry.

Despite less-than-earnest protestations to the contrary, Penguins-Capitals is still the biggest thing going. And for the first time in eons, Crosby and Ovechkin will meet while the former is healthy and the latter is sick unbelievable))).

Rather than being cynical at the media hype, we should be grateful that we’re so lucky as to witness a good game between these teams again.

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No More Southeast Division, No Big Deal

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Before tonight’s home opener, the Washington Capitals will raise a new Southeast Division Champions banner for the last time. The Capitals won half of the Southeast’s 14 division titles since 1998, but as of this season they will have to compete in the tougher Metropolitan Division, a sort of super-sized Patrick Division.

Some think the change will be disastrous for the Caps. “They will actually have to play against some tough teams in arguably the league’s toughest division,”  the Pensblog said in their division preview story.

That’s not entirely correct.

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16 Days Out: The Honeymoon is Over in Pittsburgh

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Our friends at the Pensblog wrote an interesting item last week about how the five-year post-championship grace period is already over for their Penguins. If that’s true, it’s gonna be an interesting season for Pittsburgh, as we find out exactly how traumatized that team has become following two epic flameouts in the postseason. It’ll be like a funhouse mirror for Caps fans.

Marc-Andre Fleury had an .883 save percentage in last season’s playoffs and has not peeked above .900 since 08-09. The team chose to bone up its roster at the trade deadline by getting older and slower. Dan Bylsma, all of a sudden on the hot seat, received from Ray Shero a vote of support slash kiss of death. The team fared very poorly when Crosby and Malkin were off the ice, and those marquee players– now 26 and 27– are nearing inevitable declines as they enter their late 20s.

This isn’t me saying the Pens are doomed– they’re not the Maple Leafs or anything. They’re just gonna be a fun team to watch as they work their way through the kind of issues that can derail a team. Then again, maybe Beau Bennett will put up 30 goals and everything will be hunky dory.

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Photo credit: @JessieMartin

The Washington Capitals had a few pleasant surprises from their prospects last year. Tom Wilson showed the kind of offensive output everyone had hoped for. Connor Carrick displayed NHL potential. Garrett Mitchell proved he’s NHL-ready in Hershey. But the “Performance Way Over Expectations” award this year goes to Riley Barber, who had a tremendous rookie year at Miami University. Barber was named CCHA Freshman of the Year and played on the top line during the USA’s surprising gold medal win at World Juniors.

A player who wasn’t drafted until the sixth round has somehow turned into a dominant college hockey player.

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Sweep

Joe Sargent

Photo credit: Joe Sargent

Everyone writing about the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins talks about how the rivalry isn’t what it used to be. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to harp on the diminished luminosity of Alex Ovechkin’s star or the Penguins’ 9-game streak going into Tuesday. Not gonna do it. I’m not going to ruminate on the struggles in Washington while Pittsburgh sits atop the Eastern Conference. You won’t hear about that from me. That’s just not how I roll.

Instead, I’ll stick to the game– a high-tension affair in Western PA that saw neither team establish momentum for long. Both goalies played terrifically, and then one bad goof at the end of a long power play cost the Caps the game.

Penguins beat Caps 2-1.

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A Less Than Superb Owl: Penguins beat Caps 6-3

Greg Fiume

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins have a storied history– especially on Superb Owl Sunday. Snowmageddon, anyone? This Sunday’s game belongs in history as well. But, like, next to the bombing of Guernica or childbirth before Ignaz Semmelweis.

Right after a faceoff, Chris Kunitz (may have) deflected a shot by Paul Martin into the Washington net. Mike Green responded by finishing off a great sequence and scoring a pretty one-timer goal– more on that one later. Deryk Engelland re-established the Penguins’ lead with a thoroughly screened blueline slapper, redirected by Matt Cooke. John Carlson tied it up with the Weirdest Goal of the Year: a center-ice dump-in off the boards that tricked Vokoun into leaving the net before the puck bounced in.

Then it got weird. Kris Letang took the lead back with a golden opportunity up close on Holtby. Chris Kunitz made it 4-2 shortly after that. A phantom trip call on Wojtek Wolski and Karl Alzner’s broken stick afforded Chris Kunitz either his second or third goal.

Mike Ribeiro gave life to the Caps with a powerplay goal made possible by some great hustle by Ovechkin, but despite some late-game heroics, that’s all they could muster. Chris Kunitz got either his hat-trick goal or his FOURTH of the day on a last minute power play goal. Yikes.

Penguins beat Caps 6-3.

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This t-shirt can be bought here. (Illustration by Rachel Cohen)

Wednesday night was supposed to be the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first visit to Verizon Center this season. Because of the NHL lockout, we won’t get to see Matt Cooke trolling or Sidney Crosby caterwauling plaintively at the refs. We’ll just have to settle for candy instead.

Hating Pittsburgh sports is coded into my DNA. I’m physically sick over this. Gary Bettman is depriving me of my regular Sidney Crosby hate, and now I am indescribably sad.

To cheer myself up, I have compiled these GIFs from the Alex Ovechkin “Sorry, Penguin” commercial. And now I share them with you. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll wave $15 goodbye.

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Alternate Cut of the Alex Ovechkin Suspension Video

Our Russian spies have infiltrated NHLHQ and recovered this alternate cut of Brendan Shanahan‘s suspension video for Alex Ovechkin. This video, archived by RMNB contributor Max Duchaine, contains several revelations about Shanahan’s mental state.

What we find is a broken man at the edge of madness, hated by all, who retreats to a lonely room to watch teen dramas and weep quietly. Do not loathe this man. Pity him.

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