Top 10 Red Wings Rivals: #5 Pittsburgh Penguins
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part 6 of 10 in a series on rivalries. Red Wings 101 will count down the top ten current rivals of the Detroit Red Wings. Fans are encouraged to comment with memories from past games that they may have seen in the past.)
The next team on our list is another fairly recent rival of the Red Wings, but this one is more or less based on the fans’ perception rather than the players’. Without further ado: Pittsburgh Penguins.
While a fairly new rivalry, the Red Wings and Penguins were once members of the old Norris Division from 1974 until 1981, which is when the Penguins moved to the Patrick Division. Nothing much happened in terms of intensity back then, for the record.
The rivalry took its footing in 2008, when both teams met in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Red Wings won that series 4-2. They met again for the Cup the following season, but it would be the Penguins winning the series 4-3. Some even expect both teams to meet again for the Cup in the future.
The big reason for the rivalry, in the fans eyes, is Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby. While Crosby is considered by many to be the best in the game, including by several Red Wings players, Red Wings fans tend to think otherwise. They consider Crosby to be a whiner (and a few other colorful words that I can not post on here). This became more prevalent after Crosby did not shake hands with Nicklas Lidstrom following the 2009 finals.
Despite many fans’ disdain for Crosby, there are those who respect the Penguins. Head coach Dan Bylsma played for Mike Babcock when Babcock was coaching Anaheim in the early 2000s. The native of Grand Haven, Michigan also has a book which he co-authored with his father, Jay, titled So Your Son Wants to Play in the NHL, and So You Want to Play in the NHL.
DEFINING MOMENT: Plenty to chose from in both the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, including Henrik Zetterberg and Evgeni Malkin fighting at the end of Game 2, and Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury making a last second save in Game 7. But the moment that showed the rivalry taking on another level came during a regular season game in 2010 at Joe Louis Arena. At the end of the game, a scrum ensued with Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard grabbing Crosby after Crosby had cross checked Zetterberg. Many Red Wings fans say it is the day Howard became a fan favorite in Detroit.
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