Hockey fans are in the midst of the four-month groundhog day that is the NHL offseason. In fact, I think we’ve been in the month of August for about two months now, actually. In order to get away from all things baseball, I’ve been ranking the Caps’ divisional opponents in terms of each’s rivalry with D.C. The Columbus Blue Jackets came in at #7, and the New Jersey Devils earned the 6th spot on the list. Now is the time to reveal the top five, starting with…
#5 Carolina Hurricanes
Rivalry history: It’s kind of depressing; this paragraph should be about a thousand words, given that the Caps and Canes have been in the same division for the last 15 seasons. We’ll be lucky if we get a hundred words out of this paragraph, but let’s try. Carolina has been the most pesky divisional team for the Caps over the years, and the Hurricanes have been supposed to close the gap with the Caps in the last couple seasons, but that hasn’t exactly happened. The teams definitely don’t enjoy each other’s presence, so that’s a start. In 2009, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin was suspended for two games as a result of this hit on Carolina’s Tim Gleason. In 2011, Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman suffered a similar injury that effectively ended his season when he acted as a speed-bump for Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu. Most importantly and recently, Alexander Semin, the old Caps young gun, signed with the Hurricanes last season. As a result of hard feelings from many Caps fans, this has caused a significant uptick in hate for the Carolina squad. Combine Semin with the (supposed) emerging star/brat in Jeff Skinner and you have at least two Hurricanes that Caps fans are in no rush to see succeed.
Reasons for future rivalry: Carolina winning the Stanley Cup in 2006 is my main reason for continuing to hate the Hurricanes. The Canes and the Tampa Bay Lightning were the only Southeast division teams to leave the division with a Cup in hand, and this will forever irk me. The Caps won seven Southeast division titles and couldn’t ever get out of the second round. The Canes won three and have a cup to show for it. I’m not as anti-Semin as a lot of Caps fans, but I agreed with the team in letting him walk. That said, I don’t exactly want to see him become the type of consistent, dedicated star that we always hoped he would be in D.C.