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Bish's Blog

Watching the Winter Classic

Tuesday, 01.01.2008 / 1:42 PM / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop  - BostonBruins.com
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Watching the Winter Classic
Alright, I have succumb to the excitement and I am really enjoying the Winter Classic game. Spicy Chicken, my mole in Buffalo, was teasing me as I drove home from B's practice by telling me about the conditions, etc. He is in the stands watching the game. JB

Pregame report from Buffalo...
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, right, creates a screen in front of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, left, prior to Penguins' Colby Armstrong's goal during the first period of the Winter Classic hockey game in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
"We are inside RWS and there is a light snow falling. No wind, cloudy, about 30 degrees. Awesome weather for an outside NHL game. Sabres fans appear to outnumber Pens fans by about 4 to 1. Everyone has team gear on (I am sporting an official Winter Classic toque).  Buffalo's Rick Jeannerette is warming up the crowd. More later!"

Right now it is 1-0 in the second half of the first period, after Colby Armstrong scored in the first minute of the game. But to me, the story is the improvision shown by Sydney Crosby who is putting on a pond hockey clinic.

The ice does seem to be giving the grounds crew a little trouble, but boy, am I jealous now. This looks like a lot of fun. I wonder if anyone could be convinced to do this at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium or, my choice, Harvard Stadium?

Why Harvard? Two words. Double Header. Harvard vs. Cornell followed by Bruins vs. Rangers or Canadiens. And there is a historical precedent for hockey in the stadium, too. I'll try to track down a picture.

By the way, nice touch with Ryan Miller wearing a touque a la Jose Theodore back in 2003.

2:05 p.m.
It is so loud in Ralph Wilson Stadium. You can clearly hear "Let's Go Buf-fa-lo!"

And I promised a picture of hockey in Harvard Stadium...and the Harvard Gazette had put one in their Harvard Stadium retrospective from 2003. You can check out that fun article here and take a look at the picture below:
 
A pair of rinks at the stadium is home to Harvard hockey from 1903-06. The teams enjoy a three-year win streak in their open-air digs. Above, intramural hockey in the 1910's. (Harvard Gazette)



























I wonder if the fact that The Stadium has lights and an artificial surface would help or hurt icemaking?

End of the first period, 1-0, Pittsburgh.

2:31 p.m.
The weather has deteriorated a bit, but Buffalo just scored. It's now 1-1. Brian Campbell woke up the home folks, as has some real physical play.

I am going to put up a poll on the front page as to where people might think it would be fun to have our heretofore fictitious Lobster Pot Showdown.

2:45 p.m.
Boy, this is really taking me back. I am pretty sure that playing outdoors is one thing that really ties most hockey players -- even dek or street hockey players. We've all been checked into a snowbank at one time or another.

One of my fondest memories are the impromptu games I was able to play in while visiting a friend's family in Ste-Clotilde-de-Beauce, QC over the holidays way, way back in high school.

As I remember, and we are talking about 15 years ago, the rink was behind the church in town and had a small shack nearby where you could get your skates and gloves and sticks situated.

Fun times! Although I remember that I reverted to my street hockey training as a goalie and stopped quite a few pucks with my unprotected knees. Ouch! I bought goalie pads and stuck to the net after all of that.

There is nothing like playing hockey under the stars and I was able to recreate that feeling a couple of years ago when I built a rink in my backyard...

3:02 p.m.
The latest from Spicy Chicken. He writes:
"The cold is setting in. Hard to type. The hot chocolate at first intermission was welcomed. Light snow at present. Both sides appear to be moving the puck well now, better than in the first period."

My man is right, the second period was well played and has probably pleased many who worried about the quality of the game play.

The Habs played the Edmonton Oilers in the Heritage Classic on November 22nd, 2003. (Getty Images)
3:32 p.m.
Coach Julien talked about his experience with The Great Outdoors earlier this week.

"I did the Heritage Game, Montreal vs. Edmonton," said Coach Julien when asked about his outdoor experience with the Canadiens. "It was pretty cold out there in Edmonton."

But not necessarily for Julien.

"I actually took layers off," he said. "Behind the bench they had those big (football style) heaters.

"So where do you think I stood?

"But at one point I thought my pants were going to catch on fire and I had to slide over," said Julien.

And there were issues with the extreme cold.

"The guys on the ice, they would go out there for 20-25 seconds," explained the Bruins head coach. "They couldn't breathe because it was so cold.

"It was a game where I joked that I didn't have to worry about the long shifts.

"It was a good experience...our guys all enjoyed (it), but after the game most of them said once was enough."

Jose Theodore
Julien may have initially said that once was enough for an outdoor experience, but relented somewhat as he talked about the total experience.

"It's pretty unique...it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it and the whole hoopla. I thought it was great for the game and, like in Buffalo, it really created an awareness...and that is great."

Asked about a possible game in Boston, Julien thought for a bit.

"If it's not as cold (as Edmonton) it's a lot of fun even for the players," said Coach. "Remember Theodore? He put his touque on."

---
We are halway through the third period in Buffalo.

It's still 1-1. Can you imagine a shootout?

4:34 p.m.
Crosby wins the Winter Classic with a shootout goal...





















Was there any doubt? Crosby wins it in a shootout? Come on now...it was like a movie ending.

Could there have been a better showcase for the NHL?

The Bottom Line: That was fun! Meet you in Boston next year, NHL!

5:34 p.m.
Here is the AP story:
Washington Capitals
Penguins 2, Sabres 1, SO Vancouver Canucks Toronto Maple Leafs Tampa Bay Lightning St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks Pittsburgh Penguins Phoenix Coyotes Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators New York Rangers New York Islanders New Jersey Devils Nashville Predators Montreal Canadiens Minnesota Wild Los Angeles Kings Florida Panthers Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings Dallas Stars Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Chicago Blackhawks Carolina Hurricanes Calgary Flames Buffalo Sabres Boston Bruins Atlanta Thrashers Anaheim Ducks
Penguins 2, Sabres 1, SO

Washington Capitals Vancouver Canucks Toronto Maple Leafs Tampa Bay Lightning St. Louis Blues San Jose Sharks Pittsburgh Penguins Phoenix Coyotes Philadelphia Flyers Ottawa Senators New York Rangers New York Islanders New Jersey Devils Nashville Predators Montreal Canadiens Minnesota Wild Los Angeles Kings Florida Panthers Edmonton Oilers Detroit Red Wings Dallas Stars Columbus Blue Jackets Colorado Avalanche Chicago Blackhawks Carolina Hurricanes Calgary Flames Buffalo Sabres Boston Bruins Atlanta Thrashers Anaheim Ducks
ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 01: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres make their way down the runway at the start of the NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Sidney Crosby's shootout goal will always be frozen in time.

The Penguins captain somehow saw space between Ryan Miller's pads as he shifted through driving snow and gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the outdoor Winter Classic in front of an NHL-record 71,217 fans on Tuesday.

In elements way more suited for football than hockey, Crosby won the NHL's second outdoor game - and first in the United States - in the most dramatic of fashion at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home to the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Crosby skated down the middle, eluded a pokecheck by Miller and put a shot between the goalie's pads on the final round of the shootout.

Ty Conklin allowed Ales Kotalik's goal to open the tiebreaker before stopping Tim Connolly and Maxim Afinogenov.

Kris Letang also scored for the Penguins, pushing his shootout record to 4-for-4.

Colby Armstrong gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead just 21 seconds after the opening faceoff, and Brian Campbell tied it 1:25 into the second.

Despite both teams dressed in retro-style jerseys, this games was decided by the most modern of methods - the shootout. Surprisingly, Zambonis didn't clean the ice as they would for a regular NHL game.

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Ty Conklin, right, makes a save on Buffalo Sabres left winger Thomas Vanek, of Sweden, during the overtime period of the Winter Classic hockey game in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008. Pittsburgh won 2-1. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
Given the choice of which goal to defend, both Miller and Conklin picked the West end to avoid the heavy snow that swirled and poured in toward the right.

Blowing winds and dropping temperatures worked against everyone inside the vast stadium that easily housed the hockey rink between the 16-yard lines. By the time the shootout became necessary, no one seemed to mind the typical January weather in western New York.

With the success of this event, it seems likely the NHL would seek to host more, perhaps even on an annual basis.

"When you see 70,000 people packed into a stadium to watch hockey, that's usually a good sign," Crosby said.

The record crowd that topped the one in Edmonton four years earlier, cheered and took pictures as the conclusion approached. The camera flashes dotted the entire stadium as each of the six shooters came in on goal through lake-effect snow.

When Crosby saw the puck cross the goal line, he spun toward the jubilant Penguins bench and jumped up and down with his hands raised.
---
By the way, NHL.com has a ton more coverage of the event! JB

7:03 p.m.

Spicy Chicken defrosted and gave us one more take on the game...

Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins stand for the national anthem at the start of the NHL Winter Classic outdoor hockey game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
Hey, had to defrost from the cold.  It was brutal, but the game was awesome.  Snow fell during the contest, as you no doubt saw on TV, and made it look like a game played in a snowglobe. The fans seemed to love it too, but, perhaps because of the extremes in the weather, they were a more subdued crown then most Bills (NFL) crowds.

Also, there was many a fan tailgating in the parking lots.  They opened at 8 a.m., and by 10:30 a.m. when I got there, they looked to be pretty full.  Nothing better than a grill full of burgers and hot dogs on a chilly morning just before a big game. Mmmmmm.

Sabres came out in the "home" whites from the 70s, which is an awesome jersey.  You've got a picture of them on the Bear Essentials page. Just my opinion, but I think teams need to go back to home whites.

Regardless, the game was worth the loss of feeling in the toes.  My advice is find someone at the NHL to beg them for a game in Fenway or Harvard.  It is definitely worth it, the fans would love it.


Thanks to SC and the NHL for an entertaining day!

And one more thing...

I am going to make This Date in Bruins History a habit:

January 1
-- Record, Home:  19-8-4    Road:  5-6-1    Overall:  24-14-5
1935   In a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers, Eddie Shore has a tooth loosened by a high stick, whereby he calmly pulled it out and dropped it over the boards and into the stands.
1961   In a 3-2 Boston win over the Montreal Canadiens, Boston’s Willie O’Ree becomes the first black player in NHL history to score a goal.
1973   Bobby Orr ties a club record for assists in a game with six assists in an 8-2 Boston win at the Vancouver Canucks. It ties a league record for assists in a game by a defenseman.
1998   Boston’s Byron Dafoe makes 27 saves and Ottawa’s Damian Rhodes has 24 saves in a 0-0 tie with the Senators. It is the first scoreless tie for the Bruins since Mar. 11, 1970 at the Chicago Blackhawks and is the first scoreless tie in Boston since Nov. 13, 1955 vs. Detroit.
2000   Ray Bourque becomes just the fifth player in NHL history to play in four decades (70s-80s-90s-00s), joining Gordie Howe, George Armstrong, Carl Brewer and Bobby Hull.

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