Top 10 best games: Caps vs. Penguins

Top 10 best games: Caps vs. Penguins
August 20, 2013, 2:00 pm
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With single-game tickets now on sale, CSNWashington.com is counting down the top 10 must-see Capitals games in 2013-14 (the countdown includes both home and away games).

As colleague Brian McNally noted earlier this month, the Capitals will host and visit every NHL team at least once  for the first time since 1997-98.

Below is a look at the countdown so far:

GAME #10: MARCH 25, 2014 CAPITALS VS. LOS ANGELES KINGS

GAME #9: FEBRUARY 8, 2014 CAPITALS VS. NEW JERSEY DEVILS                                               

GAME #8: JANUARY 25, 2014 CAPITALS @ MONTREAL CANADIENS

GAME #7: OCTOBER 12, 2013 CAPITALS VS. COLORADO AVALANCHE

GAME #6: FEBRUARY 2, 2014 CAPITALS VS. DETROIT RED WINGS

GAME #5: MARCH 2, 2014 CAPITALS VS. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

GAME #4: MARCH 29, 2014: CAPITALS VS. BOSTON BRUINS

 GAME #3: MARCH 10 & 11 2014: CAPITALS VS/@ PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

It has been 21 years since the Capitals and Penguins last played in the same division, but the rivalry has remained among the NHL’s best for the past two decades.

Besides the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it’s hard to find another non-divisional rivalry that has come close to matching the intensity of the Capitals and Penguins over that period. Maybe the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks enter the conversation, but their rivalry has been a more recent development and doesn’t have the history to match the Caps and Pens.

In any case, thanks to conference realignment, the Caps and Pens will finally return to being ‘divisional rivals’ next season with four meetings on tap within the Metropolitan Division.

The Caps and Penguins begin their season series Nov. 20 at Verizon Center (the middle game of a three-game homestand which also includes visits from the Blues and Canadiens) before meeting in Pittsburgh on Jan. 15.

 But the games that may provide the best storylines and atmosphere could be in March when the Capitals and Penguins meet in a good old fashioned home-and-home series with two games in two nights in two cities.

The teams will first meet in D.C. on March 10 in the Capitals’ third home game after the Olympic break, with the rematch one night later, March 11, in Pittsburgh. The home-and-home series will mark the first time that the Caps and Pens face off on consecutive nights since Games 4 and 5 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Pittsburgh swept the season-series last year 3-0, but overall the Capitals are 12-4-3 in their last 19 regular season meetings.

Perhaps most important to the heath of the rivalry as it currently stands, both Alex Ovechkin (Hart Trophy) and Sidney Crosby (Ted Lindsay Award) are coming off MVP seasons. Their individual rivalry could also add another chapter next season with a possible Olympic showdown looming in Sochi, Russia.