It was another successful Winter Classic for the NHL in Washington DC. Except for the fact that it was the lowest rated Winter Classic ever. Yikes. I guess I was not alone in not really digging the match-up of the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Washington Capitals. Part of the problem was a few major college bowls were also on tap for that day. I bet a lot of people were in football mode and not really keen on watching hockey. But that’s neither here nor day. The Winter Classic isn’t going way, so let’s dissect the game.

My favorite part is always where NBC randomly sticks Jeremy Roenick. Best part was Roenick asking a kid,”Whose your favorite player?” Kid responds, “Blackhawks!” Indeed, they are a great player. Kids say the darndest things. My least favorite part,as always, were the camera angles. During the game they boasted how they had 35 cameras. I think there was even a camera on one of the ref’s head. Why do we need any of this? They pan and zoom the camera so much, while following the puck, that it makes it so hard to follow the game. My least favorite angle is the isometric one which just totally ruins watching the game for me. I believe they do all this to show you that the game is outdoors and there’s snow on the ground, etc. We get it NBC. We aren’t stupid. While not perfect, the single tried and true camera angle that is used for ever other televised hockey game works just fine. That’s probably why they have been using it for decades.

As for the actual game, it was close as all Winter Classics are. The sun was probably the worst it’s been for any of these games. From my experience in playing floor hockey in the sun, it’s not easy. More players should have worn sunglasses since they were allowed to. Props to Alex Ovechkin for playing well and stealing the puck on the forecheck. Overall the game had a lot of scoring chances from both teams but I thought the Capitals played better and deserved to win. However, not by the way they ended up winning. The hooking call on Jonathan Toews was just terrible. It wasn’t even a hook. Toews had his stick maybe for a second or two near the Capitals player’s midsection (I don’t recall the Capitals player’s name.). But he never hooked him with the stick. Placing the stick near the body is not a penalty. I realize the plays happen fast but it’s not like the Capitals player fell down or was having problems skating. Furthermore, during the end of games the refs are supposed to hold back on calls unless they are major so they don’t decide the outcome of the game. Fail on all accounts. Next year the game is rumored to be played in Boston. It’s nice that the NHL is giving a team a chance to host the game that hasn’t yet. O wait, that’s right they already did, in 2010. Ugh.

Ratings Source: http://www.si.com/nhl/2015/01/02/excellent-winter-classic-gets-horrid-tv-rating

Also Jen Neale over at Puck Daddy wrote a good article on combining the Winter Classic with the All Star game. It’s worth a read. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/here-s-an-idea–combine-the-winter-classic-and-all-star-game-223952181.html

Things I like

1. Don’t call it a comeback but that’s what the Kings are doing as of late. Down two in the third against the Oilers the Kings rally to lose in the shootout. Despite dominating the Canucks in shots (40-16) the Kings found themselves losing 2-1 with about two minutes left in the game. But never fear, the Kings scored two goals in 53 seconds and won. Against the Predators the Kings decided to make it more challenging. Down 6-3 in the third the Kings scored three goals to force overtime. They needed up losing in overtime but they got another point and proved that they are never out of it. If the Kings get into the playoffs they will be the favorites regardless of their seeding.

2. The Dallas Stars are hot, as of late, and more importantly they are scoring, a lot. They have 13 goals in their last two goals. But even more important is the fact that Tyler Seguin has only contributed one goal and two assists to those 13 goals. Secondary scoring was always a problem for the Stars and now, that they seem to have that figured out, they are moving on up. They are only four points behind after their four game win streak and winning eight of their last ten.

3. Don’t look now but here comes the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are 6-2-2 in their last ten. Roberto Luongo has played well now that there is no pressure on him. In his second full season Nick Bjugstad is double his output from his rookie season and leading the team in most offensive categories. Last year’s 1st overall pick Aaron Ekblad has played well in his rookie season, is second in scoring and leads the team in +/-. Those two should provide the cornerstones of a successful future. Despite their recent winning, the Panthers are still a few points behind in the wild card race. They are also towards the bottom of the league in scoring goals and they have -9 goal differential. While making strides this season, don’t expect them to make the playoffs.

Things I don’t

1. While watching the Blackhawks play in the United Center, I happened to notice that they had digital ads on the Plexiglass. Apparently they have been around, in the NHL, since 2010. I never noticed them but man what an eyesore. Ads around the rink are fine because, honestly, the way they looked when the boards were all white just look plain weird. Like you were playing hockey in a sterile room. But these Plexiglass have got to go. I don’t know enough about how they work but I’d love to know if they affect the fan’s view of watching the game in their seats. What’s next, ads on the jerseys?

2. After saying the Philadelphia Flyers last week were going in the right direction, I take that back. After winning three in a row, they’ve dropped five in a row, they were fined for flying during the holidays and Wayne Simmonds got beat badly in a fight. Not the best week for the Flyers.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.

Patrick Kaleta vs Jared Cowen

Despite giving up four inches to Cowen, Kaleta just keeps punching away.

Brandon Prust vs Brad Malone

A pretty decent back and forth fight that went long with helmets flying.

Jack Skille vs Joe Vitale

A good back and forth the refs broke up to early.

Goat of the Week

Mark Streit – Philadelphia Flyers

The goat of the week would actually be the referee in the aforementioned Blackhawks game but I don’t give it to referees. So instead we turn to the Flyers. Both Hurricane goals came off of turnovers. It’s hard to find good video of the turnover that led to the second Hurricane goal so I present the first goal. Mark Streit got careless in the offensive zone which led to a turnover, a breakaway and then a goal by Brad Malone.

Stat Line of the Week

12/30/14 Nashville 3 vs St. Louis 2

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

Bks

Hits

S. Weber

25:04

2

0

1

6

4

2

Mr. Everything for the Predators, Shea Weber logged the second most ice time in the game (behind only Alex Pietrangelo), was tied for the most shots on goals and blocked shots and scored two goals, including the game winner short-handed. Just another day at the office for Weber.

Numbers, Numbers

500 – th point scored by Phil Kessel came against his old team the Bruins
1 – st win in overtime or regulation this season for the Oilers against the Kings
42 – year old Jaromir Jagr is the oldest player in NHL history to have a hat trick
8 – teams scoring at least five goals on Saturday. And they say scoring is down.
5 – Blackhawks named as starters for the All-Star game. I’m thinking the fan voting might not be the best way to go.

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

December 29, 1998 Toronto’s Ed Olczyk and Gary Leeman scored goals :04 apart in the third period to tie the NHL record for fastest two goals by a team. They came in the Maple Leafs’ 6-5 win against the Nordiques in Quebec City. Leeman also had three assists.

December 30, 1999 Jaromir Jagr scored a career-high seven points, including his 6th career hat trick and four assists as the Penguins won 9-3 against the visiting New York Islanders.

December 31, 2003 F Buffalo’s Maxim Afinogenov scored his first career hat trick, and Miroslav Satan scored his 5th career hat trick in a 7-1 win against the visiting Washington Capitals. It was the first double hat trick for the Sabres in 11 years.

January 01, 1963 Rookie goaltender Ed Johnston recorded the first shutout of his NHL career, as the Bruins won 3-0 over Toronto, in Boston Garden.

January 02, 1997 Goalie Mike Richter extended his unbeaten streak to 14 straight games (13-0-1) with a 4-3 Rangers’ win against the NY Islanders, at Madison Square Garden.

January 03, 2002 Buffalo’s Rob Ray became the 7th player in NHL history to get 3,000 career penalty minutes (and the first ever to get 3,000 PIM with one team) when his minor, major, and two misconducts pushed him to 3,019 career PIM, in a 3-1 loss at Calgary.

January 04, 1986 Wayne Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to get 100 points in a season for seven straight years. The milestone came when he picked up an assist in a 4-3 Oilers win against the Hartford Whalers.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5
1. NY Rangers
2. Montreal
3. Columbus
4. Dallas
5. NY Islanders

Bottom 5
30. Edmonton
29. New Jersey
28. Buffalo
27. Vancouver
26. Philadelphia

Alex Mueller

Author: Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.

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It was another successful Winter Classic for the NHL in Washington DC. Except for the fact that it was the lowest rated Winter Classic ever. Yikes. I guess I was not alone in not really digging the match-up of the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Washington Capitals. Part of the...