What we saw last night was the result of playing one team more than any other team over the last couple of years. Even including the Blackhawks, Detroit has played the Penguins the most since the start of the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup Finals. Last night's game was the 17th time the two teams have faced off since that first Cup match-up.
Surely that will breed some hatred and some ill-will between the two teams. That was all capped off last night with Sidney Crosby's late game shenanigans. Apparently, Crosby is not a fan of being shut down on the score sheet or completely shut out of plays by the Red Wings. So what does he do? Take out his frustration on an undeserving Henrik Zetterberg.
I'm not implying that Zetterberg can't stand up for himself and that Crosby shouldn't pick on him. Rather that as the face of a team and possibly the League, you make yourself look like an idiot when you start crosschecking out of nowhere against a player that did nothing but own you up and down the ice all night. You're in the running for the Rocket Richard trophy, you've won a Stanley Cup and a Gold Medal, and several other accolades. What do you have to bitch about?
This no doubt all goes back to the first of the two Stanley Cup Finals and the way the Red Wings smothered the Penguins defensively. Frustrating for any team to experience, let alone a young team used to having its way offensively. Then it continued the next year in the regular season and the ensuing Stanley Cup Finals. A team that the majority of Detroit fans had hardly any reason to hate now are one of the circled games on the calendar.
The tension could be felt throughout the entire game last night and the animosity between the teams grows each time they meet. There's a certain level that the Wings play with against the Penguins that only shows up again when they play Chicago. The same goes for Pittsburgh that they play a different game against the Wings, with intensity that is only matched by games against Philadelphia or Washington. I guess that's what happens when you gather the two best teams in the NHL over the past 3 seasons for a game huh?