2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers

HBO hits the high points in engrossing 24/7 finale

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If the reception for last week’s episode of “HBO 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the Winter Classic”was relatively underwhelming, then the finale received rave reviews. To be honest, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers produced so many storylines in the last week that HBO probably gathered enough material for two jam-packed hours.

The final hour captured the most compelling threads with HBO’s artful mix of great music and stunning cinematography, leaving us all wanting more – just like the 2011 edition. Let’s take a look at how they handled some of the top stories:

The penalty shot

Naturally, the Winter Classic coverage provided many of the show-stopping moments, but the high point revolved around Danny Briere’s penalty shot against Henrik Lundqvist. HBO pulled out all the stops with multiple camera angles, a perfect soundtrack for the moment and then allowed the inherent drama to take over.

Jaromir Jagr’s up-and-down week

To little surprise, Jagr dominated much of the footage. HBO went behind the scenes during his momentous visit to Pittsburgh with Maxime Talbot, who clearly faced an emotional night.

source: Getty ImagesNaturally, it didn’t stop there as cameras captured Jagr during his well-documented Winter Classic injury. They followed him all the way into the trainer’s room, only stopping when Jagr waived them off while getting treatment.

Finally, perhaps the best bit of chatter came regarding Mike Rupp’s mock salute. Some Flyers weren’t even aware it happened, others shared considerable disdain for the gesture while the Rangers were predictably supportive of the celebration. Regardless of where each player stood, it all resulted in a bevy of gut-busting one-liners.

Bryzgalov’s pain

Ilya Bryzgalov cast a large shadow over the final episode, but this time he wasn’t a source of comic relief. Really, he provided a sort of dark comedy, as HBO captured him in some painful moments after an ugly loss and included footage of Bryzgalov spilling the beans about the Winter Classic starter.

As much as HBO spotlighted Bryzgalov’s oddball side, the greatest value came in the evidence that he happens to be a rather sensitive soul. (Note: that might just be a long way of calling him a “goalie,” though.)

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From Marc Staal’s comeback to robust critiques of referees, HBO covered all the biggest threads without giving the hour-long episode a congested feel.

Still, many of us will miss the “little” moments the most. What were some of the standout scenes for you? Feel free to share your favorite memories from the final episode and the second edition of HBO’s great doc series, in general.

Finally, if you want to read up on the rest of the series, here are recaps for the other episodes:

Episode 1 review
Episode 2 review
Episode 3 review

Video: Brodeur, Schneider, Holtby participate in ceremonial faceoff

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You don’t see this very often.

The New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals added an interesting twist to the ceremonial faceoff prior to Saturday’s game.

Former Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur dropped the puck, but instead of the captains taking the draw, it was the two starting goaltenders-Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider.

You can watch the highlights from the ceremony by clicking the video at the top of the page.

The Devils will be retiring Brodeur’s number 30 prior to Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

The 43-year-old won 688 games and posted 124 shutouts as a member of the Devils between 1991 and 2014.

He also won three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies in his career.

Mike Yeo gets a vote of confidence; Wild will scratch Vanek, Zucker vs. STL

Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo talks to Jason Zucker (16) in the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Things haven’t been going well with Minnesota’s hockey team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean changes are coming via firings or trades.

On Saturday, Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher reiterated his confidence in his team and his coaching staff going forward.

The Wild have won just three of 15 games since Jan. 1 and they’re currently riding a four-game losing streak.

The Wild have been through mid-season slumps before.

Last year, Yeo lost it during a team practice and that seemed to spark his team, as they were able to turn things around and make it to the postseason.

Will a similar tactic work, again? Probably not.

As PHT pointed out earlier this week, this slump might not be like the previous ones.

The Wild are just one point behind Nashville (with a game in a hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but will their top guns be able to get them out of this funk?

The numbers aren’t pretty:

Zach Parise has no points in his last four games and just one goal in his last nine contests.

Thomas Vanek hasn’t scored in eight games. He has just one assist during that span.

Mikko Koivu has four assists in 15 games since the new year began.

Mikael Granlund has two assists since Jan. 7 and he has a a minus-11 rating since then.

Jason Zucker has one assist in 11 games. He hasn’t scored since Jan. 7.

How will Yeo get his team’s attention this time around?

Here’s your answer:

Hossa doesn’t think the coach’s challenge is “good for the league”

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, left, Marian Hossa (81) and Bryan Bickell (29) react after Los Angeles Kings' Jake Muzzin scored a goal  during the third period in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Marian Hossa isn’t a fan of the coach’s challenge.

The veteran winger ripped the NHL’s new challenge system after he had a goal called back in Thursday’s game against Arizona.

–To watch the overturned goal, click here

“I thought that was [a] joke,” Hossa said, per the Sun-Times. “I tried to battle in front of the net and I don’t have any intention to touch the goalie, just try to battle through two guys and put the puck in the net. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the playoffs, if there’s going to be calls after calls after calls. But I don’t think it’s good for the league.”

The goal was called back because as Hossa was battling in front, he got tangled up with goaltender Louis Domingue‘s stick.

It’s safe to say that Joel Quenneville wasn’t pleased with the decision:

One of the main criticisms of the challenge system is that the review is conducted on a small tablet by the referees on the ice instead of someone in a war room in Toronto or New York.

Every time a goal is disallowed, the NHL writes a blog explaining why the decision was made.

Here’s what they said about the call on Hossa:

The Referee determined that Hossa interfered with Domingue before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Referee, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to ‘Interference on the Goalkeeper,’ as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Chicago Blackhawks.

Do you think the referee got the call right?

Report: Penguins will host Flyers in an outdoor game in 2017

In this photo made with a fisheye lens, fireworks go off above Heinz Field as fans hold cards with a message honoring veterans before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Associated Press
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It looks like the battle of Pennsylvania will head outdoors in 2017, according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to host the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field next year. It’s still unclear if the game will be a Stadium Series tilt or the NHL’s annual Winter Classic game on Jan. 1.

Here’s an excerpt from Burnside’s story:

The two state rivals have been talking for months about a plan for an outdoor game or series of outdoor games. There was discussion about playing an outdoor game at Penn State, but it’s believed financial demands by the university soured the teams on the neutral site as an option, so the two franchises have been looking at a reciprocal arrangement with an outdoor game played one year in Pittsburgh and a second game in Philadelphia perhaps the next year.

Although the Steelers and Penguins have a good working relationship, there could be a scheduling conflict if the NHL wants to make this game the Winter Classic.

Jan. 1 will be the final day of the NFL’s regular season . Should the Steelers host a Wild Card game the following week, they’d likely decide that a hockey game on their field isn’t the wisest decision.

To avoid this dilemma, the league would just have to move the game to Dec. 31.

This would be the second time Heinz Field hosts an outdoor game (2011).