Hockey Under the Stars (15 cents)

Well, it was sort of a kick. I can’t say that I think that the NHL January 1 outdoor game is something I look forward to, although because this year it featured the Caps and the Penguins, I knew I would watch it. It was scheduled for early afternoon, but no one anticipated that it would be 50 degrees in Pittsburgh and raining. This led to a decision to reschedule the game for 8 at night, when rain was less of a possibility. Looking at the forecasts as the day went on, my guess was that the game would need to be further postponed.

But this was not the case, and the game started without rain, and it didn’t rain until the middle of the third period when it began to come down quite hard.

The game continued, and the teams played on ice than was melting on top, with rain coming down. In fact, it did not seem to mke playing more dangerous and it did not slow things down.

I did wonder about the crowd of 70,000 who filled Heinz field. I didn’t worry that they would be cold, and wasn’t really concerned that they would be drenched. After all, it is still football season.

What I worried (or at least wondered) about was how they could see the game from so far away. Hockey can be hard to watch anyway, due to the speed of the game, and the size of the puck. Perhaps they looked on the big screen in the end zone, but how satisfactory is that?

I have not seen any complaints, and although their home team lost 3-1, it turned out to be a very good game.

The word is that Pitsburgh is the better team. Certainly, Sidney Crosby is having a more productive season than Alex Ovechkin, and is probably more of a universal favorite with his clean cut looks. And he has a reputation for being a nice guy. Ovechkin has a more mixed reputation, I guess – tougher in the rink by far. And, although I did not watch any of the HBO series comparing the two teams, I understand that none of the Caps were treated well. A lot of it was because the series was filmed during a Washington losing spell, while the Pens were winning game after game. And this showed I. The demeanor of the teams.

The Caps and Penguins played each other about ten days ago. An evenly matched game, it was tied at the end of the third period, featured a scoreless overtime period, and a rather lengthy shootout that Pittsburgh finally won. Very exciting hockey.

In fact, yesterday’s game seemed much less closely matched. The Caps were pressuring from the beginning and, although it is never easy to score against Pittsburgh goalie Fleury, in fact, the Caps with a little luck would have scored more than three (including two by Eric Fehr, only the second time in his six year NHL career he had a multiple goal game). And Caps goalie Varlamov played an excellent game.

As for Pittsburgh? They just didn’t play at their best and that was obviously fine by me.

The season is now a little more than half over. The Caps have won five of their last six, following their surprising eight game losing streak. Presumably they will make the playoff, which is when things really begin to count in this league. Then, we will see what they can do, as they try once more for the Stanley Cup.

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