Usually coming up with a title is one of the more difficult parts of writing these blog entries, but today was easier than most. If you stopped by on Friday, you read that this evening will be a rematch between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. This is not the first time the two teams have played since that cold, rainy New Year’s Day game, but it’s the first time the Caps have been back in town since then. The make up of the Pens is vastly different this time around, with the ranks still being depleted by injuries. It’s going to be a good show none the less, as it is always is when two rivals face off.
Rivalries are one of the best things about sports. Of course every fan dreams about their team winning a championship, as that is the ultimate prize for any league. Individual player awards are nice, but they don’t do a whole lot for the fans. Rivalries though, that is what really gives sports that edge, that intensity, that can’t miss game appeal. It’s amazing how rivalries in games can transcend into the culture of an entire city. Take my hometown, Pittsburgh and their football team the Steelers (notice I said their, not our) and one of their most hated rivals, the Cleveland Browns. The competition between the two teams has spread from the football field and into the streets of the cities, with Cleveland being called “The Mistake on the Lake”, t shirts that say “The only sign of intelligence in Cleveland is ‘Pittsburgh – 170 miles’”, and general ridicule for all things Cleveland. It doesn’t really help that the Browns haven’t been able to really field a competitive football team in years, but I think if they had, it would only fuel the rivalry further.
There will also always be those classic rivalries, like Lakers-Celtics in the NBA, Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, Packers-Vikings in the NFL and Duke-North Carolina in college basketball. But it can be really exciting to watch rivalries grow, like the one between the Pens and Capitals. Sure they have been Eastern (or Wales back in the old days) Conference competitors for decades, but with the emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the two best players in the world, it has taken the feud to an all new level and makes them the most exciting two teams to watch in the league, especially when they play each other. No matter what happens with for the rest of their careers, Sid and Ovechkin have left their mark on these franchises that will last a lifetime.
On to the shots. I won’t be going through the processing on these, just wanted to share a few sights from the 2011 Winter Classic. Check out the caption below each for the description. You’ll have to excuse the quality on the close ups of Sid, Geno and Ovechkin. We weren’t allowed to bring in big cameras, so I had the S95 at full zoom, which doesn’t giving the most crisp shots. The other in game action shots were taken with it as well, and they turned out great.