NHL announces 2011 Heritage Classic in Calgary; Flames uniforms cause a stir

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2011 Heritage Classic.jpgWhile we’ve got the Winter Classic to get excited about here in the United States, Canada is getting their own outdoor game once again this year with the resuming of the Heritage Classic. Back in 2003, Edmonton and Montreal played an outdoor game in November at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. This time around, Montreal will head to the other big city in Alberta and take on the Calgary Flames on Sunday, February 20th at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

Today, the NHL and Gary Bettman held their press conference to announce the game in earnest and unveil flamesheritagejersey.jpg

If your first thought after viewing that is to ask if you’ve run out of ketchup and mustard, you can’t be faulted. If your other thought is how ironically amusing it’ll be to see Flames legend Lanny McDonald wearing one of these then you’re right there with me. As for why the Flames are wearing a jersey they’ve never worn before in the team’s history, fear not, there’s a good explanation as to what, exactly, this jersey is.

The Calgary Flames are proud to announce that they will wear a fusion design jersey honouring the history of professional hockey in Calgary (inspired by the Calgary Tigers’ uniform) for the Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium on February 20, 2011 versus the Montreal Canadiens.

The Tigers helped form the Western Canada Hockey League in 1921 to become the first major professional team in Calgary. In 1924, after winning the Western Canadian Championships, the Tigers became the first Calgary-based club to compete for the Stanley Cup, losing the best of three Finals in a sweep to the Montreal Canadiens led by Georges Vezina and Howie Morenz.

The Flames worked with the design team at Reebok to create the vintage look. The jersey features the same jersey striping pattern with a beige Flames C logo in a vintage felt application.

All right so at least that’s a noble nod to honor the past professional hockey efforts in Calgary. Perhaps recognizing the team’s original roots in Atlanta might’ve been a nice touch too, but let’s not get too crazy. As it is, give credit to Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy flamesheritageuniform.jpg

I’m not exactly a fashion maven myself here and I’m perhaps the least trendy person alive, but this will give me nightmares for a while and I’m going to blame the cream-colored breezers for it. If nothing else, those will help distract from the McDonald Land nightmare that are those jerseys. It’s fitting, however, that after the Canadiens have exposed fans and other teams alike to a host of sometimes horrifying jerseys to celebrate their 100th anniversary that they’ll get a first-hand look at what could be one of the more infamous jersey faux-pas of recent memory.

One added thing they’re doing with the game in Calgary is hosting a WHL game the day after the Heritage Classic between the local Calgary Hitmen and the oldest team in the WHL, the Regina Pats. Doing things like this, like they did in Boston last year having a college hockey doubleheader at Fenway Park, helps the league do nice things for the smaller yet still notable local hockey operations in town. Spreading the wealth to the smaller guys does a lot of good things for local public relations and every little bit helps the league out.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch when they failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fan, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong regular seasons, even as memories of their Cup win start to fade into the distance. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to defend Craig Anderson following his blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some sad endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: