F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 06/20/14 at 10:03 AM ET
As Paul posted earlier this morning, it appears that the Washington Capitals will being facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015 Winter Classic, venue still to be decided, but I'm assuming it will be Nationals Park. This certainly has the potential to be a fun game, but I have to wonder why the NHL would go with a non-conference opponent with whom the Capitals have no history.
Of the six Winter Classics thus far, only Buffalo-Pittsburgh really lacked the intense rivalry. We've had Wings-Hawks, Flyers-Bruins, Capitals-Penguins, Rangers-Flyers, and Leafs-Wings. That's two Patrick Division rivalries, two Original 6 matchups, and I can assure you there is no love lost between Philly and Boston. This one just feels....meh.
Given that they've all played in two previously, the Penguins and Flyers were probably not going to be selected. The Capitals have built up quite the rivalry with the Rangers, and we are a whole lockout removed from their last entry into the Classic. Or what about the Islanders? They did have an outdoor game last season against the Rangers, but it wasn't the Classic. There's plenty of history there, and the Islanders' have the talent put on a good show. The Devils would have been a better choice, especially if the Caps (for some reason) go out and sign Brodeur. I can only assume they passed on those three because there is a New York Classic on the horizon, and they want to keep their options open.
Even if you want to go out of the Metropolitan, why should Chicago gets billing before, say, Tampa Bay. Yeah, Tampa doesn't have the current standing of Chicago, but they were a playoff team last season. They do have one of the best scorers in the League. And there is still a pretty strong rivalry there, at least from a Washington perspective. They make the most sense from a storyline perspective, but not a financial one.
Honestly, to me, this looks like the NHL doesn't have that much confidence in the Capitals being a big enough draw, both attendanc-wise and TV ratings. When the Capitals were announced as the host, they were coming off their sixth consecutive playoff appearance and Alex Ovechkin had appeared to have rediscovered his scoring ways. Today, we see a Capitals team that failed to make the playoffs last season, replaced their GM and coach, and is a bit more of a question. That doesn't exactly sound like a team too many non-fans would want to watch. So, you have to put them up against one of the best teams in the League - the team that was a goal away from the Stanley Cup finals this year, and is favored to win the Cup next season. Make no mistake, this is going to be the story of the Hawks coming in to play Ovechkin, because that's what's best for business.
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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