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Breakfast with Benz

Analysis: Some Pittsburghers will be fine with Capitals winning Stanley Cup. How?

| Thursday, June 7, 2018, 6:18 a.m.
Fans and Washington Capitals players celebrate a goal by Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly during the third period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Fans and Washington Capitals players celebrate a goal by Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly during the third period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights, Saturday, June 2, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I saw this Twitter poll. The results boggle my mind.

How could more than half of Penguins fans "not feel pain" watching the Capitals win the Stanley Cup?

If they do it tonight, I know I'll feel pain. And I bet many of those who said "no" will feel differently come tomorrow morning.

Put me firmly in the 49 percent right now.

For years, it had been said around these parts that the Capitals were to the Penguins what the Bengals are to the Steelers.

If the Steelers were to ever lose to the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, I wouldn't expect to see a lot of Steelers fans rooting for Cincy two weeks later over NFC "Team X" in the Super Bowl.

In both cases, Washington and Cincinnati are division rivals with talented and accomplished regular-season teams that couldn't get over the hump against Pittsburgh clubs in crucial situations.

Also in both cases, many of those ignominious defeats have come in dramatic choking or blown-lead situations. Usually, that path was pockmarked with some sort of mental and/or emotional breakdown.

If the Caps polish off this victory, we can't say that anymore. Heck, after what the Capitals did to the Penguins this year, we shouldn't be saying it, anyway.

Just think, no more snarky jokes about all those President's Trophy banners in Capital One Arena once they hoist a real one next October.

On top of that, there are a few other factors that leave me scratching my head over this poll result. First of all, "The Flower Factor." Do we really want to see the hated Caps eliminate Marc-Andre Fleury and the feel-good Golden Knights?

Secondly — like the Bengals — Washington has their own version of Vontaze Burfict in Tom Wilson. Hey 51 percenters, when you see Wilson's toothy grin as he hoists the Cup over his head, think about the last time you saw him smiling that big.

Yeah, that photo came after he did this to Zach Aston-Reese.

There are really that many Pittsburghers who aren't going to be pained by seeing that guy celebrating a championship? Really? Because you can't get one without the other, ya'know?

The Penguins' fanbase seems to have cooked up this weird tone of forced enlightenment on this topic. It's like "hockey altruism" or something. There's a lot of: "It's OK. We had our time. Let's spread the wealth."

No! It's not OK. It should be "our time" as long as possible, and we should hold onto the wealth forever. Be greedy.

Then, whenever we do have to give it away don't happily give it to ... this guy!

Stupid bird celebration. God, I hate that.

Half of this city's hockey fans have taken a posture of, "look at us and how wonderfully gracious we are in defeat."

Yeah. I agree with Mr. Crowley there. Sports are built on rivalries. Part of a good rivalry is when schadenfreude kicks in after your rival loses.

There's a forced Alex Ovechkin angle in this discussion, too. "Oh, he deserves a Cup."

Does he? If he "deserved" one, he'd have one. Dan Marino, Ted Williams and John Stockton don't have rings. Do they "deserve" one any less than Ovechkin?

What I really think is at play here is that if the Capitals win, then those 51 percent of Penguins fans have an easier time reconciling a three-peat attempt that came up short. That's what's at the heart of the conversation.

If it's the eventual Stanley Cup champs that end your run, the pill becomes easier to swallow, doesn't it? Well, at least we lost to the best, n'at!

Another line I hear a lot is: "It's the Caps. It's not like it's the Flyers."

Fair enough. However, to draw an NFL analogy again, just because the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl in a given year, that doesn't mean you have to happy for the Ravens if they do it.

Just remember, if Ovechkin wins the Cup, this cartoon will never quite have the same bite.

And then Twitter will become a lot less fun.

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