The eighth Winter Classic is upon us, and it’s a doozie of a matchup. Foxboro, Mass., will host the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, placing hockey’s greatest rivalry outdoors. Yes, please. Given the history of bad blood between the two squads, the 2016 Classic immediately has a chance to go down as one of the best.
Which Winter Classic is the king of them all so far? It’s time to rank all seven, from worst to best. An important note: quality of hockey isn’t paramount. Indoor NHL rinks with standardized ice conditions treat us to higher-quality hockey every night of the week. So a good Winter Classic is about entertainment value above all else, and while good hockey helps, the entertainment can also include intangibles. Let’s begin.
Pregnancy, engagements, the constant fear of players being traded and lives upended — if these were some of the reasons you tuned into the first season of W Network’s Hockey Wives then Season 2 will be right up your alley.
If the ladies learned any lessons from their time in front of the camera last season, it’s not exactly obvious in the premiere, which airs Wednesday night. True to form, several of the returning wives have picked up where we left off, which means they’re still obsessed with marriage, moving, and luxury vacations during the offseason – the only logical time to film the show in order to properly showcase said husbands. Read more
Just over a week into the 2015-16 NHL season, six teams are still sitting with some glaring zeros in the standings. While the Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks remain the only undefeated teams in the league, the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils are still looking for their first Ws.
Four of those six teams are in action on Saturday night, perhaps with a little something extra to compete for than their opponents as they look to either erase or defend those aforementioned zeros.
2014-15 Record: 51-24-7 (109 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 1st, Pacific Division
What To Expect: In the past three playoffs, the Ducks have inched progressively closer to their second Stanley Cup, taking 3-2 series leads before falling short. Most recently, they appeared destined for the dance, before the resiliency of the Blackhawks overpowered them. This string of near misses could be spirit crushing, or it could be the perfect motivational elixir. Bet on the latter.
The Ducks are once again all in. General manager Bob Murray made clever off-season tweaks, upgrading his wings with Chris Stewart’s size and Carl Hagelin’s speed while adding veteran bottom-six help in Shawn Horcoff and Mike Santorelli.
Anaheim’s offense dipped from first to 11th and lost 22-goal scorer Matt Beleskey this off-season, along with Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem. The Ducks needs new additions to pitch in and to see progress from youngsters Rickard Rakell and Jiri Sekac. Anaheim relied on a top-heavy structure led by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. Secondary scoring must take the heat off the top guns. Read more
2014-15 Record: 24-50-8 (56 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 7th, Pacific Division
What To Expect: With one of the NHL’s top prospect pools, the Coyotes believe they have a bright future and a chance to bloom into a perennial contender. But, presently, Arizona’s roster is months removed from a demolition that saw core veterans dealt for picks and prospects. The result is a talent-thin lineup with little chance to compete in the ferocious Western Conference.
Off the ice, as usual, there is intrigue. The city tried to renege on its 15-year, $225-million arena management agreement with the team before the two parties agreed to a resolution in late July.
2014-15 Record: 41-27-14 (96 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 6th, Atlantic Division
What To Expect: After seven straight playoff appearances, including a Stanley Cup, ownership swiftly axed GM Peter Chiarelli when Boston missed the dance by two points. It wanted the roster remodelled, and new GM Don Sweeney did just that, moving six regulars, most notably Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton. The core of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask remains, but the 2015-16 Bruins will have a different feel.
Last season, the B’s dropped from third in offense to 22nd, and Sweeney moved four of
the seven players who reached 40 points. Wingers Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey are the major additions up front. They’ll be challenged to replace Lucic, Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith. Beleskey and Hayes have each had one productive season, so banking on either is a gamble. A bounce-back year from Brad Marchand and another step for David Pastrnak, the youngest regular in the NHL last season, will help Bergeron and David Krejci carry the offense. Pastrnak led the team with 26 second-half points. Read more
2014-15 Record: 23-51-8 (54 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 7th, Atlantic Division
What To Expect: Between 1979 and 2009, 10 teams drafted in the top two in consecutive years. Five of them reached the Stanley Cup final within eight seasons and three won the Cup. Buffalo, after bottoming out for two straight second-overall picks, hopes to join the list.
The ascent begins in 2015-16 with the seasoning of Jack Eichel. He won’t have to shoulder the offense alone, as GM Tim Murray acquired No. 1 center Ryan O’Reilly minutes before drafting Eichel. Murray also dealt for Evander Kane last season, and Kane will be ready to debut in October after shutting down his year for shoulder surgery. Read more
2014-15 Record: 45-30-7 (97 Pts.)
THN’s Prediction: 3rd, Pacific Division
What To Expect: Last summer, nearly everyone suspected there would be a buzz around the Flames in the spring, because Connor McDavid was up for grabs, and Calgary looked like a sure lottery contender. But nearly everyone was wrong about the Flames, who overcame the loss of captain Mark Giordano in the final quarter of the season and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Despite their success, pitiful possession numbers and 10 comeback wins told the story of a lucky team who arrived ahead of schedule. GM Brad Treliving, aware of the potential for regression, boldly upgraded his roster. He dealt for RFA defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a 22-year-old star in the making, and promptly signed him to a six-year deal. He then lured versatile two-way winger Michael Frolik as a UFA. These additions, along with the natural progression of youngsters Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett, will guard against a slide. Read more