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Training Camp Outlook: Feature Presentation

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Professional sports is all about marquee matchups. As far as hockey goes, there’s nothing that can compare to the Penguins with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin battling Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

By most experts’ opinions, those three superstars represent the top-three hockey players in the world. As out-of-this-world as each performs on an almost nightly basis, it seems like they save their best hockey for when they play each other.

This season the Crosby-Malkin-Ovechkin rivalry will take its grandest stage yet – the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field on Jan. 1, 2011.

While this matchup has the potential to be the greatest regular-season contest in the history of the NHL, it’s also going to create some level of distraction through the first half of the season – particularly in the month of December as the game’s buildup reaches its crescendo.

“From seeing the games in the past and from the memories – the experience is going to be pretty fun,” Chris Kunitz said. “As far as the game itself, it’s against a rival in Washington and those games are very heated anyway. Hopefully the weather will hold off for us and it will be a good day.”

Head coach Dan Bylsma says the Penguins embrace this challenge and the stage it creates. Great teams have the ability to handle these sorts of challenges seamlessly. As a veteran team that has played in two Stanley Cup Finals and a previous Winter Classic over the past three seasons, the Penguins figure to be in good shape dealing with the hype.

Let the countdown to New Year’s Day begin.

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