NHL Winter Classic 2011: 10 Lessons We Learned from Capitals-Penguins

Matthew FairburnCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2011

NHL Winter Classic 2011: 10 Lessons We Learned from Capitals-Penguins

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    The 2011 NHL Winter Classic, Pittsburgh PAJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    After the build up from the HBO 24/7 Series, and the game being postponed, the 2011 Winter Classic was anti climatic.

    The rainy weather lead to terrible ice conditions and a slow paced game by both teams. Players continually struggled to move the puck and generate much rhythm.

    Amid all the disappointment, there was a lot to be learned from this game. Here are the top ten lessons learned from the 2011 Winter Classic.

Mike Green Is a Defensive Liability For The Washington Capitals

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    Sidney Crosby had Mike Green's number all night.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Mike Green got abused by Sidney Crosby in this contest. Green has always been known more for his offensive presence on the blue line, but he is going to need to hang with the NHL’s elite play makers if the Capitals are going to find postseason success.

Pittsburgh Was Not an Appropriate Site

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    Pittsburgh's conditions were not the best for this event.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Heinz Field has had issues in the past with field conditions, which made it a curious site for a hockey rink. In addition, the Penguins had already played in a Winter Classic.

    Another factor worth mentioning is how quickly will they be able to clean this up and make a respectable playing surface for the NFL playoffs? 

    I understand the Ovechkin Crosby rivalry is a fan favorite, but Pittsburgh hosting this game was not a success.

The Penguin’s Power Play Is in Trouble

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    The Penguins are not making the most of their power play opportunitiesJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Since the Penguins have come off of their incredible winning streak the power play has gone missing. Pittsburgh had multiple chances in this game with a man advantage and was not able to capitalize. They need to right the ship in order for the Penguins to get back to their winning ways.

The Ovechkin Crosby Rivalry Is Overrated

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    NBC, HBO, and the NHL over played the Ovechkin Crosby rivalry to a drastic extent. The sports world wants this to be the next great rivalry in sports, but it has not materialized.

    The 2011 Winter Classic was anti-climatic for a number of reasons including the weather, conditions, and the lack of energy on the ice.

The Penguins May Have Peaked Too Early

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    DId the Pneguins peak too early in the season?Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have really cooled off after going on a tear early in the season. They did not play physically at all in this contest and could not generate much offense on Washington’s defense.

    The weather and conditions played a role in the sloppy play, but the Penguins gave the Capitals a serious mental edge heading into the second half of the season.

Bad Ice Makes for Bad Hockey

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    This may seem like common sense, but the terrible ice conditions made for a sloppy, slow, and anti-climatic game. The NHL takes a significant risk every year by playing a game outside, and the risk seems to have back fired this season.

    Despite the significant efforts to put together a respectable and safe ice surface, the Penguins and Capitals were forced to play in conditions more suitable for pond hockey. It was a shame because this game had a ton of potential.

NBC Struggles to Broadcast Hockey

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    NBC should stick to footballRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    NBC is the worst in the business at broadcasting hockey. They used terrible camera angles, and continually masked the fact that the weather was atrocious.

    NBC is so used to broadcasting football that they lay an egg every chance they get to showcase the NHL.

The NHL has been spoiled by great weather in past Winter Classics

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    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    It is no secret that the weather was a serious issue throughout the day. The bad conditions really slowed down the game and made the Winter Classic a little less special. Every year the Winter Classic is a tremendous spectacle, but the weather took away from the event this year.

Ovechkin Could Be Turning a Corner with His Play on a Big Stage

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Although it had more to do with a lack of tenacity on Pittsburgh’s part, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals finally got the job done on a big stage. That being said, this was still a regular season game, and Ovechkin and the Capitals still have to prove themselves in the playoffs.

The Capitals Have Picked Up Important Momentum

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    After a well-documented losing streak, the Capitals have turned it around and seem to be picking up steam heading into the New Year. The Penguins came out completely flat in this game, and this may be the turning point in the race for the top of the Eastern Conference.