Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 Winter Classic: BUF 1, PIT 2 (SO)

The Winter Classic wasn't the most exciting game of the season; no one expected it to be. But for the NHL record 71,217 fans in attendance and those watching on NBC and CBC (well, I'm sure people were watching the latter broadcast at least), the novelty of an outdoor game is a fun break from the enduring season. And despite the snow slowing down the puck, there was a fair amount of end to end action.

Orchard Park, NY's Ralph Wilson Stadium may also hold the record for the longest regular season game in NHL history. The event was plagued be constant delays as the ice crew worked to pick up the snow and repair divots during the commercial breaks.

As if Gary Bettman scripted it himself, Sidney Crosby was the clear star of the game, assisting on the opening goal and winning it for the Penguins in the shootout. But the YouTube moment of the day was when Sid the Kid, unable to settle the puck in the snow, decided to carry the puck in the air, juggling it on his stick and then popping it over the defensemen as he split them. Crosby got bumped off the puck at the last second but still managed to push the biscuit one-handed on net. Wow.

Pittsburgh and Buffalo donned the throwback sweaters, a la the 2003 Heritage Game. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller tacked a toque to his goalie mask for charity, reviving the look made famous by then Habs netminder Jose Theodore. The players should have gone retro by using wood sticks. The cold temperature made it difficult to get anything on a slapshot using a composite. Brian Campbell smartly unleashed a well-paced wrister to beat Pens goaltender Ty Conklin to tie the game.

There is talk of making the Winter Classic an annual event, but I think it's better every four years or so. But then again, I thought the novelty of a shootout would wear off, and that seems here to stay.

And thank you to NBC for unearthing the clip of commentator and ex-Islanders GM Mike Milbury beating a Rangers fan in the stands with his own shoe when he played for the Bruins. Now that's a classic.

Recaps: THN/CP, TSN Broadband



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