Thomas Vanek tries to stay warm at the unconventional Winter Classic in Buffalo.
I’ll be the first one to admit I’m a big fan of NHL games held outdoors.
The spectacle of 70,000 fans crammed into a football stadium, the awe on players’ faces—too difficult to mask—and the game time snowstorm was all a pleasure to watch.
But with that said, I can’t shake the feeling that altering the rules (and elements) that are supposed to be in place for each and every game made the Winter Classic a bit of a farce.
What the heck am I talking about, you ask? Well, beside switching ends halfway through periods and subjecting players to poor ice and blinding snow, the pre-shootout flood was cast aside in favor of a lame squeegee job that had shooters shoveling their way to the hash marks before they could even think of picking up speed.
When two points are on the line - two points that could, in the end, determine whether or not a team goes to the playoffs – it’s unfair to play by a different set of rules.
So, let’s keep the outdoor games (once every two years ought to work nicely), but let’s save them for the All-Star Game, when the outcome doesn’t matter.
A CREASE IN TIME
In case you’ve been living under a rock or you just picked up the game and this is the first hockey-related article you’ve ever read (thanks, if it is), here’s something you ought to know: Goaltending is everything.
This is a lesson the Kings and Lightning refuse to learn, despite the fact it’s undeniably clear.
These two teams, each of which sit at the bottom of their respective divisions, can thank shaky tending for their on-going woes.
The Kings, still in the process of rebuilding, are likely content to watch the season go down the flusher and pick up a top 2008 draft pick. The Lightning, though, are a team not too far removed from a Cup victory and missing the playoffs with the talent they have up front would be disappointing, to say the least.
GM Jay Feaster (whose regular THN.com blog can be read here), would be wise to give the Senators – who may be happy to rid themselves of Ray Emery – or Don Meehan, Curtis Joseph’s agent, a call ASAP.
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE HAWKS
I really wish I used one of my late fantasy pool picks on Patrick Sharp… You really do have to feel bad for the Hawks, who are now without two of their best three players (Toews; Havlat), and eight skaters total, due to injury. Just when the Red Rising was actually starting to ring true… Goodbye, Sergei Samsonov. We hardly knew ye… Despite finally being healthy, Tuomo Ruutu, who has all of three goals in his last 29 games, is hardly playing like a top 10 draft pick (9th in 2001).
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