Washington Capitals players claim that the Pittsburgh Penguins are no longer their blood-feud rivals. Forget the years of first-round matchups in the playoffs (and the endless ass-handings suffered by the Caps), forget Ovy vs. Sid, Ovy vs. Geno, Semin vs. Crosby, all that stuff. The real obstacle facing the team in their quest to even get the chance to hoist the Cup offets the black with orange, not yellow.
It's quite true--the Flyers were the team that eliminated the Caps in last years hard-fought first-round battle, bringing an almost unfathomable ride to an abrupt, ugly halt. That series still stings anyone who rocks the red and means it. (Not that I don't also adore the bandwagon fans. They're so cute, with the not knowing how to pronounce the last names of half the roster, the inability to relate to those of us who lived through Sergei Fedorov in the '98 Cup Finals.)
The Penguins, though? Non-entity these days. Halfway through the season, Pitt is floundering, currently 10th in the Eastern Conference, and out of contention. Their sizable Internet fanbase is in full-on Dramamine Queen mode. Beating the Pens now--as the Caps did last night, 6-3--is like beating an old woman at arm wrestling.
The desperation level is such that Pens fans are actually begging Jaromir Jagr to abandon the faltering KHL to put the bird on his back again. They're dying alive, those poor schmucks.