Winter Classic a Mega Success
January 3, 2010 by Big Tony
The 2010 Winter Classic by all accounts was a big time success and I agree completely. The magic of the day was not tarnished by anything; the weather was great, the ice held up extremely well, the fans were fired up, and the game itself was spectacular. Three cheers for everybody who helps make this game happen because it’s certainly a treat for everyone and congratulations to the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers for putting on a great show leaving us all wanting for more.
In the meantime the other big news to come out over the holidays was the announcement of the various Olympic team rosters set to take the ice next month. At the moment the easy favorites to win the Gold Medal are Canada and Russia with the Canadians possibly holding a slight edge over Russia because the tournament will be held on the smaller North American size ice along with the fact that the games will be held in Canada which instantly gives them a boost. On the other hand, one might say that the games being held in Canada yields a slight advantage to the Russians because Canadians traditionally have a ton of pressure on them to win the Gold Medal anyway but now that pressure is intensified since Team Canada will be playing on home ice. Although there is a fair amount of pressure on the Russians as well there will no doubt be a lot less on them than on the Canadians which will allow them to simply relax and play hockey without worrying about any other distractions. Despite those factors it is still a virtual toss-up between the two teams in trying to pick the favorite but you can’t really go wrong either going for gold and everyone else likely battling for the bronze.
On the rest of the NHL front there are a number of teams streaking in both the right and wrong direction. The San Jose sharks are currently the hottest team in the league as the smoked Edmonton 4-1 on Saturday to improve their win streak to eight. Despite the streak the fans in San Jose are cautiously optimistic as they’ve been down this road before. In each of the last three years the Sharks have posted over a hundred points—winning the President’s trophy last year—and faltered come playoff time. This year’s teams is by far the best they’ve ever had but the question is can they finally carry over this success into the post-season.
Another team enjoying recent success is the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite losing to Boston in the Winter Classic on Friday, the Flyers have won four out of five and have earned at least a point in five straight. There is a long way to go for the Flyers who have dug themselves quite a hole but it seems they have managed to turn things around and make a legitimate push toward the playoffs almost overnight.
The Calgary Flames are also in the midst of a four game winning streak after coming from behind to defeat Toronto 3-1 on Saturday. This is a team in a situation similar to San Jose in that they have had a decent amount of regular season success that they have not been able to translate into the post-season. Strong goaltending has always been there for Calgary but what separates them from last year’s squad is a much stronger blueline with the addition Jay Bouwmeester in the offseason who is a plus 13 to date. It is his presence that has helped Dion Phaneuf up his game a bit and also takes some pressure off of Kiprusoff which is why this year is probably Calgary’s best chance they’ve had in years to advance deep into the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are streaking as well but in the wrong direction. With their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday afternoon the Penguins have lost four in a row, scored only one goal in two games, and blew a 3-0 lead to the Buffalo Sabres earlier in the week. In a long season there are many ups and downs but the alarming thing for Pittsburgh is the way they’ve been losing. There is a long way to go and the Penguins have too much talent for such a streak to continue but they’ve got to find a way to score more consistently and protect leads when they get them.
The worst of the losing streaks belongs to the Atlanta Thrashers who have lost 8 games in a row after a great start to the season. There’s really no surprise it’s simply Atlanta being Atlanta until they show me otherwise.
Well that’s a run around the league a little bit. I hope everyone enjoyed the Winter Classic and have a great time ringing in the New Year! Have a great 2010 everybody!