The NHL season is approaching as the regular season is set to start in a mere four weeks. The Washington Capitals are fresh off their first-ever Stanley Cup championship, as they finally got over the hump, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and ultimately pacing the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final and then the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. It was a well deserved run that almost every hockey fan could appreciate. It was one of the more genuine championship runs in sports history.
Finally, the Caps had a maturation that was highlighted by besting their rival, the Penguins. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby took note. While talking to reporters Wednesday, Crosby said the Capitals went into another gear after beating the Penguins.
“In the conference final, you could tell they seemed to get another gear, getting over that hump in the second round took weight off their shoulders,” Crosby said per Wes Crosby of NHL.com. “They just continued to elevate their game and played really well. They obviously deserved it.”
Those are kind words from a rival. But, again just about every fan of the NHL can appreciate the run the Capitals went on. The way they skated past the Penguins, icing the series in Pittsburgh, it was clear the Capitals were a team of destiny.
For the first time in their franchise history the Capitals enter a season as the defending Stanley Cup champions. While the the Metropolitan Division is still loaded, the Capitals are now the hunted and the measuring stick for the rest of the division as well as the NHL. Crosby admitted that Pittsburgh will be motivated to best the Capitals this time around heading into the 2018-19 season.
“I think you still think the same way. That’s the team that beat you and that’s where you want to be, is in that position,” Crosby suggested.
The Capitals and Penguins have grown to be the NHL’s best rivalry. That rivalry has now intensified more with the two teams winning the last three Stanley Cup titles between them. Their first meeting of the season will be Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh.