During this season, the NHL had great success in pulling off two distinct outdoor games. There was the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh that saw the Penguins fall to the Washington Capitals and there was the Heritage Classic in Calgary, Alberta, Canada that saw the Flames shutout the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.
For next season, we’re hoping Canadian fans got their fill of the Heritage Classic because according to a report from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the NHL will only be putting on the Winter Classic and not the Heritage Classic. The 2011 Heritage Classic was the first one held in eight years since the original took place in Edmonton in 2003 and featured the Oilers taking on the Canadiens. While the Heritage Classic this year was a huge financial success, the availability of locations in Canada appears to be a major problem. There’s also the issue of the league oversaturating the market for outdoor games by staging two of them per year.
For next season, it’s rumored that the Flyers and Rangers will face off with each other in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park on January 2, 2012. The NHL has yet to confirm those reports but it’s believed strongly that that’s what the matchup and location will be. Not doing a Heritage Classic is likely to ruffle many feathers north of the border, but in order to pull these off they have to have a place large enough to host it and in a location where weather won’t be a major factor. Cities like Toronto and Montreal have ideal weather but no real place to hold the games. Vancouver has a venue that could be used but the weather along the Pacific Coast doesn’t lend itself well to real winter-like conditions.
While the report says that the Heritage Classic won’t be played this year, there’s hope it’ll return for the 2012-2013 season. That could lead to the possibility of seeing one take place in Winnipeg but there are some issues there that would need to be settled as far as a venue plus the weather during winter in Winnipeg is harsh, cold, and windy. Not the ideal sort of thing for hockey outdoors. That will be some time away to think about. We’re sure the NHL enjoys putting on these events as they’re a cash cow to put on, but they have to have the locations needed to do it and that’s just something they don’t have enough of in Canada.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”