It’s one thing to know about an intense rivalry between two hockey teams, but it’s another to experience it firsthand.
Four of the Capitals’ five new additions – Tomas Vokoun, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward and Roman Hamrlik – have never been on a side in this Washington-Pittsburgh rivalry, and tonight they will get their first taste of it. (Jeff Halpern, of course, is already familiar from his first stint with the Capitals.)
In Chicago, Brouwer was a part of rivalries with the Red Wings and Canucks. While Detroit is an old, traditional rival remaining from the Original Six, the dislike with Vancouver picked up more recently after playoff series in each of the past two springs.
“No, that’s not even our big one. Our big one’s with Vancouver now. And so those games were pretty intense,” Brouwer said when asked about the Blackhawks’ rivalries. “I’m assuming that it’s the same type of hockey [between Washington and Pittsburgh]. You go into these games and everybody’s up for these games. It’s those games that you have to win and you really want to win. You judge your team how well you do against them.”
Vokoun, who will likely face the Penguins tonight, may be new to the rivalry but he understands what it represents.
“I haven’t been part of it, so not as much as probably guys who play here,” Vokoun said when asked about elevated intensity against Pittsburgh. “You know what? They’re a good team and if you want to be the top team you’ve got to beat the best team. So, it’s a good test for us and it’s going to be hard game.”