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Tom Wilson sparks latest round of Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry beef

Tom Wilson sparks latest round of Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry beef

CAPITAL ONE ARENA – Do not tell the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins it is only December. To say Wednesday’s contest between the two rivals was an intense one would be putting it mildly.

It took all of 55 seconds before fisticuffs broke out between the two teams, as Tom Wilson knocked Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak senseless to the delight of the red-clad Caps fans. The cheering did not stop there as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin could be seen screaming at each other from their benches after the fight.

Crosby explained why the two began jawing at one another after the game.

"I'm just trying to find out why it wasn't an instigator [penalty] and he started yelling at me for some reason,” Crosby said. “My conversation was with the official, not with him, so I don't know why he felt the need to come over."

Since, of course, you never see both captains discussing calls with referees. That just doesn’t happen.

Oh….

It’s not all that clear exactly what Crosby saw to justify an instigator call. After Oleksiak finished a check on Matt Niskanen, Wilson immediately made a beeline for him, but he certainly did not catch Oleksiak by surprise.

“He went a long way to make that hit, and right when we looked at each other, it was on,” Wilson said.

Both players knew a fight was coming, and Oleksiak even got off the first swing.

As a captain, there’s nothing wrong with Crosby appealing to the referees on his team’s behalf, just like there’s nothing wrong with an opposing captain inserting himself into that conversation to make sure an opponent isn't able to get that extra call from the refs.

Talking to the referees is part of the job when you get that C on your chest and it would have looked really bad for Ovechkin if Crosby had managed to wheedle an instigator call without any opposition from the Caps’ captain.

Neither Crosby nor Ovechkin really did anything wrong here, but like everything on Wednesday cooler heads did not prevail and things escalated into a shouting match between two of the sport’s greatest players.

If this is what we can expect should these two teams meet again in the postseason, there’s only one question left to ask: Is it April yet?

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Why goalies will have the hardest time adjusting to NHL's return, per Joe Beninati

Why goalies will have the hardest time adjusting to NHL's return, per Joe Beninati

With commissioner Gary Bettman's announcement of the NHL's plan for returning to play, hockey fans and players alike can begin to gear up for a 24-team postseason frenzy at some point this summer. 

Teams will have time to shake the rust off in training camp since the league went on hiatus nearly three months ago. July 1 is the earliest camp can begin. Players like Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who admittedly hasn't touched his skates since March, will have to get back in shape quickly before the first puck drops. 

However, Capitals play-by-play announcer Joe Beninati thinks the skaters will be fine. It's the goalies that face the biggest challenge getting back to where they were when the season was suspended.

"I think the goaltending is going to be the most difficult to return," Beninati said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "These guys keep themselves in great shape, they'll get reacclimated, their skating muscles will return in that two-week cap period. For goalies, it's especially difficult to get that timing back and the goaltending role is so explosive. They're asking their bodies to do so many things so reflexively, so powerfully, and quickly that you may be dealing with injuries there."

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Beninati also noted that with expanded rosters under this new format, teams should be able to carry as many goaltenders as they like along with 28 skaters. While having to start your third or fourth goalie in a playoff game may not be an ideal situation if players start getting hurt left and right, it's at least good the league has a preventative measure in place. 

One of the most important aspects of playoff success in the NHL is goaltending. Even if training camp begins on July 1, that'd be nearly four months to make up for physically and mentally with an apparent increased risk of injury. Then you have a massive 24-team field in an NHL playoff setting known for its unpredictability. 

It's probably safe to say the 2020 NHL playoffs will be wild. 

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Fans choice should be clear: Why Oshie, Vrana should win 'Best Bromance'

Fans choice should be clear: Why Oshie, Vrana should win 'Best Bromance'

The Capitals have always been home to some impressively strong bromances (see Ovechkin-Backstrom, Chimera-Ward, Wilson-Latta just to name a few) but there might be none better than the developing connection between linemates T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana. With the NHL Fan Choice Awards in their final week of voting, we thought we would help jog your memory (in case you’ve forgotten) with five reasons why Oshie and Vrana deserve your vote for Best Bromance in the NHL.

5. You’re great! No, you’re great! No, really, you’re great!

It was clear early on this season that the relationship had gone to new heights and the world got to experience it firsthand on December 11th when Oshie and Vrana paid each other compliments after a spectacular goal by No. 77.



After Oshie dangled the Bruins defense, Vrana was sure enough the first teammate there to celebrate and then after the game, Oshie joked that he had to look down and check his skates to make sure they weren’t Vrana’s based on his speed burst. Quick to the repay the comment, Vrana took to Twitter to compliment his linemate on his silky smooth mitts.



They really are too cute.

4. Checking In During Coronavirus Isolation

Last week, Vrana participated in a cook-off with teammate Jonas Siegenthaler and Oshie tuned in to see how things were going. No less than 10 seconds into joining, Oshie recognized and commented on his bro’s new ‘do!

Even during isolation, Oshie is always checking in on his linemate.



Oshie then continued on to taunt Vrana about what seemed like far too clean a house for his linemate and say that his food looked a little dry. But the best part is just the two of them calling each other “liney” the whole time. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.

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3. Sit Back and Watch the Shootout Show

Earlier this year, with the All-Star Game approaching in St. Louis, Oshie found himself on the ballot to be the Last Man In from the Metro Division. Who gave the best endorsement? You guessed it, that would be Vrana.



Oshie then invited Vrana to join him as a package deal, but Vrana had other plans: watching with a nice bowl of popcorn from the couch.

2. Bro Shark, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo 

January 5th looked like it was going to be a very disappointing loss for the Capitals. Hosting the San Jose Sharks, a Logan Couture empty-netter with 1:00 left in regulation seemingly sealed the deal for the visitors with a 2-goal cushion. Never say never. 

First, it was Vrana who brought the Caps back within 1 with 47 seconds left. Then, it was his linemate Oshie who tallied the tying goal with just 15 seconds left on the clock. Our NBC Sports Washington cameras caught another intimate moment for the pair when they got back to the bench.



Could they be any cuter?

1. From One Liney to Another

Yes. They could be cuter. Here’s how.



I mean, look at that. C’mon people, this is the best bromance in the NHL and honestly, it’s not even close. Does anyone else have a t-shirt for their bromance? I thought not. Case closed.

Click here to vote (voting ends on Monday, June 1).

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