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The Student News Site of BASIS Independent McLean

The BIM Bulletin

The Student News Site of BASIS Independent McLean

The BIM Bulletin

Penguins vs. Capitals: The Rivals of the East

Photo taken by author

When I was 11-years-old, hockey was the last sport I would be caught watching. A last resort if it was the only thing on the TV. Even then, the game never interested me. When hockey started catching my attention, it wasn’t like the snap of a finger. It was gradual. Eventually, football was moved to second choice. I started looking specifically for hockey during TV time at night, fighting my brother to be the first with the remote. Even then, I don’t think it was really what hooked me onto staying up at night analyzing games. One day, I came across a video compilation of Ovechkin in his prime. The way he played the game, moved across the ice, it was such a fascinating sight that I found myself digging deeper, falling into a loophole of video compilations from Waynze Gretzky to Sidney Crosby. That night was the night where I found myself grasped in the hockey realm, awaiting every game and picking apart every play. Being from the area, I found myself immediately gravitating to the Washington Capitals. They made me feel connected to the sport.

From 1990 until now, the Capitals’ biggest rivals are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both teams have two of the most accomplished players in the National Hockey League (NHL) on their rosters, so it’s always a heated match whenever they face off. The Caps and Penguins rivalry mainly hails from the fact that they have met eleven times in the playoff series. This is the second most meetings between any two teams in the league. The rivalry peaked in the late 2010s, as they met three times in a row on route to the Stanley Cup finals.

In 2005, the Penguins won the first overall pick for their roster. They drafted Sidney Crosby, who would later go on to be their captain and one of the best players in the league. Just a year before, the Capitals drafted the first overall pick, Alexander Ovechkin. However, both players entered the ice in the same 2005-2006 season. Last month, I tuned into the Penguins and Capitals game. As a DMV native, I was obviously rooting for the Caps to come out victorious. From a writer’s perspective, the game was not the best material to write an absolutely unbiased piece. So, I ended up deciding not to comment on it, but as a Capitals fan, the game ended in the best way possible. If you ever get the chance to see a Capitals-Penguins game while both star players are on the ice, it’d be in your best interest to take the opportunity and experience it live.

In the 2015-2016 season, the Capitals and the Penguins emerged as the top two teams in their division and in the Eastern Conference. Their playoff meeting that season was their ninth overall, but first in the last seven years. The Penguins managed to defeat the Capitals during their first two games in the Playoff Series. When the two teams met again during game five, the Capitals were on the brink of elimination. They managed to score three times during the game compared to the one goal from the Penguins, saving themselves from being sent back home. In game six, the Penguins pulled ahead with three points in the first period. Then, the Capitals managed to tie the game with another three points in the second and third periods of the game. The game went to overtime with a win for the Penguins. This playoff led the Penguins to their 2016 Stanley Cup.

In the 2016-2017 season, both teams were fired up. They rose once again as the top two teams in their division and the Eastern Conference, yet this season they also came out as the top two teams in the entire league. This outcome resulted in the tenth playoff meeting between both teams. The Penguins managed to come out victorious in games one and two against the Caps, but their reign was cut short when the Caps managed to score during overtime, ending the game with a win. Despite their loss in game three and the lack of their star player, Sidney Crosby, the Penguins pulled ahead to win game four. Games five and six were playing out in the Capitals favor. In game five, the Caps pulled ahead with a score of 4-2. In game six, they overpowered the game with five points. The Penguins managed to score two points with just a few minutes left on the clock, but it was not enough to overcome the Capitals, leading to their second loss against the Capitals during the playoffs. Then, for the fourth time in NHL history, the Penguins and the Capitals faced off in game seven of the playoff series. With another Penguins victory, the team moved up to win the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row.

In the 2017-2018 season, the Capitals finished first in their division and the Penguins second with the exchange of standings yet again. Both teams entered the playoff series with the absence of some of their best players. The two teams exchanged wins for the first two games. The third game was stressful, as they were tied 3-3 with one minute left on the clock in the third period. The Capitals went into game six against Pittsburgh with three wins and two losses. They managed to win against the Penguins for the second time ever in the playoff series and send them home. This victory was followed by the Capitals first and only Stanley Cup victory.

Of these three games, the Penguins won two. The Penguins went home with the Stanley Cup for both of these games in 2016 and 2017. The one time the Caps managed to emerge victorious against the Penguins was in 2018, when the team won their first Stanley Cup and their only one so far.

Works Cited

“Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals | 2nd Round, 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.”, 2016, Accessed 9 May 2024.

“Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals | 2nd Round, 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.”, 2017, Accessed 9 May 2024.

“Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals | 2nd Round, 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.”, 2018, Accessed 9 May 2024.

Staff, S. I. “The Crosby-Ovechkin Rivalry.” Sports Illustrated, 2 Jan. 2011, Accessed 9 May 2024.

Wikipedia Contributors. “Capitals–Penguins Rivalry.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Apr. 2024, Accessed 9 May 2024. 

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About the Contributor
Aishu B.
Aishu B., Staff Writer
Aishu is a current ninth grader at BASIS Independent McLean. This is her first year on the newspaper staff for The BIM Bulletin. She is looking forward to working as a staff writer for topics such as school culture, sports, and pop culture. She is especially passionate about music and is looking forward to sharing various playlists with the BIM community. Aside from school, Aishu is an avid ice hockey fan. She also loves to dance and has been doing so for twelve years. She is very excited to share her opinions and experiences through The BIM Bulletin for this 2023-24 school year.