Kevin Shattenkirk is new to the Capitals-Penguins rivalry. As a trade deadline acquisition, he has only been with the Caps for about two months. He has not built up a lifetime of hatred for Pittsburgh as have most Caps fans, he does not have painful memories of the series in 2009 or 2016, he has not even had a regular season to accept that fact that he now must hate the Penguins instead of the Chicago Blackhawks like he did in St. Louis.
Instead, Shattenkirk brings his own rivalry to this second-round matchup, a personal one between himself and Penguins forward Nick Bonino.
“We've battled for years in many different ways,” Shattenkirk said. “In practices, on the golf course, there's plenty of different ways that we've gone against each other and we always want to beat each other.”
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Shattenkirk and Bonino played college hockey together at Boston University from 2007 to 2010 and won a National championship in 2009. They have been close friends ever since. Shattenkirk was even the best man at Bonino’s wedding.
When friendships form among professional athletes, however, so do rivalries.
There are few people on Earth more competitive than athletes. After the St. Louis Blues were eliminated in the playoffs last season, Shattenkirk was happy to see Bonino go on to win the Cup with Pittsburgh, but he admitted he had awkward feelings about it afterward.
“To see him go through that summer and all the cool things that are associated with winning a Stanley Cup,” Shattenkirk said, “It does make you want it more when it's someone who you know and someone you're close to. We actually were together about a week or 10 days after and it was still very raw for him and it's a little awkward for me to be in that situation, but at the same time it really did fire me up and want me to experience that same sort of elation and joy that he had that was surrounded around winning the Cup.”
That feeling became even more awkward in Game 1 when Bonino scored the game-winning goal against Shattenkirk and defensive partner Brooks Orpik.
“It kind of ticked me off even more that it was him because he's someone I have to see later on in the summer so I have to hear about that,” Shattenkirk said. “You have to give credit that he's a performer in the playoffs and another guy on their team who we have to worry about.”
That was just Game 1, however. With plenty of hockey left to play, Shattenkirk may yet have the bragging rights this summer when he meets his friend.
“We’ll talk afterwards,” Shattenkirk said, “And hopefully both people have a good series and I come out on top.”
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