On this Super Bowl Sunday, as the nation sits down to celebrate the ending of the National Football League season, it is a time to eat, drink and be merry. In the spirit of the end of the NFL season, in this week’s Pucking Awesome Hat Trick we will take a look at the National Hockey League in an NFL style.
The two teams that are matched up in Super Bowl XLV have combined for 18 NFL Championships and 11 Super Bowl appearances. With that in mind for the NHL, the Stanley Cup Final this season would match up Montreal vs Detroit. The Canadiens have made the Stanley Cup Final 34 times, winning 24 of them, although Les Habitants last made the Cup in 1993 when Patrick Roy took down Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings.
The Western Conference representative Red Wings have made 24 appearances in the Cup Final, winning 11 of them. Red Wings fans, unlike the Canadiens fans, have not had to wait patiently for a Final, as they made back-to-back appearances in 2008 and 2009. Although in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys tied with Pittsburgh with eight Super Bowl appearances. You get the idea of two historic franchises with tons of winning history squaring off to decide the ultimate championship.
Challenge on the Play
In 1999, the NFL changed their instant replay rules allowing coaches to “challenge” a call on the field. The NHL is getting close to allowing replays as well. On Friday night two close off-side calls resulted in two big goals as both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks scored goals that on further review should have been called off-sides.
This has seemed to be a weekly, if not daily, occurrence in the NHL. The game is faster and television coverage has improved—why not use these to your advantage to make the game better? The GM’s rejected a Dale Tallon proposal back in November, but when they reconvene in March, they should take time out of talking head shots and discuss this much needed rule change.
Game of the Week
The NHL on NBC has returned and in the spirit of the flexible schedule that is given to NFL on NBC, the game I would flex this week would be the Boston Bruins vs the Montreal Canadiens. With all due respect with the games that NBC chose for their Sunday lineup this week (Bruins vs Red Wings), this Northeast Division rivalry will be more fun to watch.
The 708 lifetime games between these teams are the second most of any two NHL opponents. They come in second only to Detroit and Chicago, with their original six matchup games of over 712. This season the series has been lopsided, with the Canadiens winning the first three matchups. All three matchups have been close, as the Canadiens have outscored the Bruins by the combined score of 10-6, including a miracle overtime comeback victory in their last matchup on January 8th. I expect fireworks in this matchup of division foes so close in the standings.