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.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.