The Winter Classic: 10 Very Bold Predicitions
OK, OK, you’re tired of hearing about Crosby versus Ovechkin. Every hockey fan not a Caps or Pens fan has emailed me or commented how tired they are of hearing about them and the Winter Classic.
I get it, I really do, and even as a Capitals fan I must agree.These two teams and players are way over-hyped. With just one Stanley Cup between them in 10 combined years, I see your points.
However, if you're a true hockey purist, you are still looking forward to the New Year's Day matchup. I know you are, and it's OK not to admit that to anyone.
Even HBO has jumped in with its show 24/7 Capitals-Penguins (no way I will ever put the Penguins first, and I don't care how HBO has it on its ads) coverage leading up to the Winter Classic.
Thanks to HBO we know that the Pittsburgh Penguins have a few quirks, Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury must sit next to one another on an airplane ride and hockey players get rated higher for fighting. Head coach Dan Bylsma grades your play higher for dropping the gloves.
I also didn't realize that hotel furniture could be moved in and out of rooms with relative ease, and that had to be the biggest hotel elevator lobby area on any sixth floor I have ever seen.
One more thing I learned about Pittsburgh: None of the members on the Penguins will ever be mistaken for a member of the rock band ZZ Top. Let’s just say that team members are lucky Bylsma doesn’t include growing facial hair as a grade in their performance.
The Capitals have a few issues of their own. Apparently Alex Ovechkin thinks getting hit with a hockey stick in the back of the head shouldn't cause a cut. He attributes the bleeding to a lack of tough skin: "Maybe he has sensitive skin, no."
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau's grasp of the English language is limited to words that end in "uck." One is puck, and you can figure out the other word.
Lastly, it's obvious to me that Mike Green isn't a sissy after all. His tattoos on the back of his arm are some of the most painful tattoos a person can get.
Like it or not, hockey fans outside of Washington and Pittsburgh, the Caps-Pens rivalry is the best in the NHL since Colorado and Detroit in the late '90s and early 2000s. Crosby and Ovechkin are the two best players in the world, and the NHL got it right this year by bringing Pittsburgh back for a second Winter Classic game.
Here are 10 bold and probably not so accurate predictions for this year’s Winter Classic. I do have to add one warning: If you’re looking for an in-depth breakdown of this game, this is not your article or slideshow.
Boudreau Gets Desperate and Brings in the Hanson Brothers
The photo is bad, but the movie was, in my opinion, the greatest sports movie ever made. Pictured above is Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. He was an extra in the hit movie Slap Shot, starring Paul Newman.
Boudreau was No. 7 and played for the Hyannis Port Presidents and when interviewed by the Toronto Star about his role in the movie said, "I'm the little hog that stays in front of the net because I knew that's where the cameras would be."
The Capitals' toughness came into question following their loss in seven games in last season's playoffs, and the addition of the Hanson Brothers at the Winter Classic, or at least their style of play, would make for an entertaining holiday game.
Calm down, hockey purists. You know you like it when the gloves come off.
NHL Levies a Fine
Brooks Orpik levels Alex Ovechkin once again. This time the hit is deemed dirty, and the NHL decides it must levy a fine for the infraction.
Realizing the game is in Pittsburgh, the NHL fines the Steelers' James Harrison $50,000 for the hit, and the NFL suspends him for the first playoff game.
Sorry, Steelers fans; as a Ravens fan I can predict whatever I want. It’s my article.
NBC Tries to Boost Its Hockey Ratings
In a stunning development—or not so stunning if you remember last February's horrific Olympic hockey coverage on the network—NBC announces the game will be moved around to several of the NBC affiliate networks.
In order to boost television ratings for all of their sister networks, the following decision has been made by NBC Sports. The pregame show will air on NBC with Bob Costas. The first period will be shown on CNBC, the second on MSNBC and the third period on the USA Network.
Should there be overtime, we will all be out of luck, as NBC has decided to re-air the 1968 original broadcast of Heidi. Sorry, younger readers—that one may get away from you.
Platform Ice Diving Added As an Event to the Winter Classic Festivities
Gary Bettman decides that there simply aren't enough festivities leading up to this year's Winter Classic. Since Sid the Kid has been spotted a time or two doing some diving of his own, he enters the competition and wins going away.
Now, now, Penguin fans, I am fair. Just click to the next slide.
Sorry, I Just Couldn't Do It to The Great 8
Sorry, Pens fans, I just couldn't do it...
I am fair and balanced, and if you check out my article from last week regarding why this Classic will be the best one yet, I give Crosby plenty of props. I would take his gold medal and his Stanley Cup over anything The Great 8 has done to date in the NHL.
Rangers Fans Are Still Upset and Hold a Separate Game
Still whining and upset that their team was not picked for this year’s Classic, Rangers fans convince the team to play a game at Yankee Stadium anyway, and their opponent will be the team from Mystery, Alaska, a rematch of a game played 12 years ago.
"It's an outdoor game and they played us really tough in the first one. We wanted this one in our city.” This comment was from someone within the Rangers organization that wanted to remain anonymous.
Yankee Stadium is sold out, and signs can be seen being held up that say "Puck you NHL."
Judge Walter Burns returns to coach the Mystery team, and a la Brett Favre and Mario Lemieux, Sheriff John Biebe returns with him.
The game is a hard-fought battle with Mystery going on top first when an aging but still very quick "Skank" Marden beats Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist between the pads for a 1-0 Mystery lead. A late first period fight between Sean Avery and Tree Lane gives the Rangers a burst into the second period.
The Rangers score three times and lead 3-1 after two.
The third period is fast-moving ,and after two Connor Banks goals the Mystery team is tied once again with the Red and Blue late in the third. This time, though, the winner is scored by Sheriff Biebe after John Tortorella receives a bench minor for squirting hot chocolate on a fan behind the Mystery bench.
Mystery wins the game and returns home to watch the Alaska-based Sarah Palin reality show.
I couldn't think of 10, so I came up with this one. You can't imagine how many Rangers fans have cried to me about the Penguins getting into this game for a second time, leaving them out.
Relax, Ranger fans—your game is coming, and probably soon.
The Great 8 Stays Out Too Late on New Year's Eve
Alex Ovechkin has been seen a time or two out "clubbing it up" in the DC area. The eve of the Winter Classic is also New Year's Eve, and Alex doesn't miss an opportunity to party.
Ovechkin parties a little too much in bringing in the New Year and shows up the next day at Heinz Field thinking he is going to see the Redskins play the Steelers.
Redskins' New Placekicker
With only two goals in his last 19 games, Alex Ovechkin retires and joins the Redskins as a kicker. Ovechkin expresses his immediate displeasure with the coaching staff about kicking off for a team that plays a 3-4 defense.
To appease Alex, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder signs Alex to a record contract for a kicker: five years and $70 million.
Alex inks the deal not realizing the contract is just for show but fails his conditioning test the following week. Ovechkin is bought out of his contract for just $3.75 million, making him free to return to the Capitals in time for the Winter Classic.
The Great Mario Comes Out of Retirement to Play in Winter Classic
Mario Lemieux, playing in the alum game the day before the actual Winter Classic, decides he's still got the itch to play. He signs himself to a one-game contract, saying, "I have done everything else in my NHL career but play outdoors in an actual NHL game."
Reminiscent of Game 4 in the 1996 playoffs versus Washington, Lemieux is thrown out in the second period for instigating a fight. The great Mario takes exception to the excessive goal-scoring celebration by Alex Ovechkin and beats the hell out him. Thanks for the memories, No. 66.
In All Seriousness: This Will Be a Great Game
It's the Caps and Pens, and yes, Sid the Kid v. The Great 8. If you don't like it, then turn the channel, and watch one of three meaningless college bowl games that will be on. I can't wait.
The who's better arguments are in full swing. These two teams admittedly do not like each other, and now we get to follow them all the way to the Winter Classic thanks to HBO.
I, for one, love the game of hockey and what these two bring to their teams and the sport. As stated, I'm a Caps fan and Ovie is our player, but I can't argue with a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal.
Sidney Crosby has the edge in the debate for now. The Winter Classic is another stage to continue that argument, and while the numbers and stats will be written and said a thousand times between now and next week, remember this: Love them both or hate them both, as hockey fans we owe them both a debt of gratitude.
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have brought life back to a sport that was on the brink of possibly dying after the lost season. I have heard rumors ESPN wants back in, and this sport hasn't been this good for a long time. Both have been great ambassadors for the game, on and off the rink.
My prediction for the game itself goes something like this. Ovechkin scores the first two goals, and Crosby cuts the lead to one. After the first period Washington leads 2-1.
The Caps extend the lead to 3-1 (sounds familiar), and the Pens storm back to tie it a 3-3 (sounds even more familiar). The first overtime is completed, and we head to a shootout, but I don’t have the USA Network, so I'm missing all of this anyway. The last two shooters are Crosby and Ovechkin.
Who really cares what happens next? Haven’t we all won however it turns out? Enjoy the game, and Happy New Year.