Although the NHL went up against the Daytona 500 and the NBA All Star Game; today was a dream day for true hockey fans. NBC challenged Fox (who broadcasted Daytona) and gave hockey fans a double header. The first game featured the Washington Capitals who beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. The second game had the Chicago Blackhawks beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. The Caps sit at the number five spot in the Eastern Conference at 72 points. They are only three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightening for the Southeast Division lead.
But wait there’s more!!! Hockey fans were actually treated to a triple header today. The Canadian version of the annual New Year’s Day Winter Classic was shown on Verses at 6pm. The “Heritage” Classic matched the Montreal Canadians visiting the Calgary Flames at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
It was a true throw back game. The air temperature at game time was a balmy 14 degrees and dropped to 10 as the game went on. By game’s end, the wind chill was -3 degrees. Most children in Canada started playing outdoors on a pond or lake. This game brought hockey back to its roots.
The teams played before a crowd of 40,000 cold but enthusiastic fans in the Western Canadian city. The Flames beat the Canadians by the score of 4 to 0. Of the six outdoor games the NHL has staged since 2003, the home team is 2-4. Tonight was the first outdoor shutout recorded by a goalie. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff fended off 37 shots.
Now that football is over, I will begin to watch the NHL closely as we are less than two months away from, the beginning of the NHL playoffs.