’14 Winter Classic: Scenes from the Big House

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The Big House is, for lack of a more eloquent adjective, big. And as Brough mentioned yesterday, it’s pretty cold here in Ann Arbor.

Big and cold were two of the major themes on Monday as workers continued to prep for what promises to be a world-record crowd to watch a hockey game when the Maple Leafs and Red Wings meet tomorrow, New Year’s Day, in the 2014 Winter Classic.

We thought it’d be neat to give PHT readers at look at the Big House prior to tomorrow’s event. Y’know, capture the essence of the thing.

With pictures…

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Brough said this might be the best picture I’ve ever taken, on account of 1) me being pretty terrible at taking pictures and 2) it being taken on the worst mobile phone known to mankind. So I guess yeah, it’s a good picture. The only thing it fails to capture is the temperature which, at the time of writing, was 16 degrees Fahrenheit, minus-9 Celsius for our Canadian readership. It’s cold, man. And according to this, it could get even colder.

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This is the cushion responsible for the well-being of over 100,000 derrieres on Wednesday. Godspeed, cushion.

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So, I really got into seat cushions during my photographic journey. There are some more abstract/avante garde ones that didn’t make the cut, but will be available on PHT: Art Haus (launch date TBD).

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Here be the rink. If you happen to be in one of the lower seats in Section 8 (which is where this was taken from), congrats — you’ve got pretty good sightlines for the Classic. Oh, those guys on the ice? They were partaking in the media hockey game, which was not the fittest moment in the history of athletics.

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Had to throw this in as a PSA — be on the lookout for counterfeit Winter Classic swag!

“Consumers generally assume they’re buying authentic NHL merchandise to support their favorite team, only to learn later they’ve obtained counterfeit merchandise of inferior quality,” the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos said in a release last Thursday. “When you take into account the capacity of Michigan Stadium (north of 100,000) and the caliber of the Detroit and Toronto fan bases, the NHL is expecting this year’s Winter Classic to break the all-time event attendance record, which means the 2014 NHL Winter Classic is ripe for counterfeiters.”

So yeah, don’t buy shady gear. If Datsyuk is spelled with a six, you’ve bought shady gear. Don’t do that.

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Ice-making refrigeration truck featuring Dion Phaneuf, who can now afford many, many of these trucks.

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This is one of the main entrances to the fan plaza. I have a feeling that sedan won’t be there for the Winter Classic, but you never know. Cherry parking spots like that don’t come around very often.

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Thought this was pretty cool — the target practice event is an old-beat up stackable washer/dryer. Anyone that’s played linoleum basement hockey as a kid knows this is a surefire way to hone your wrister, then get grounded for a week.

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Just a quick glance into the media workroom at the U of M’s Junge Center. There are fax machines and copiers and TVs and everything. Not pictured: Me, abusing the seemingly limitless coffee supply. “So wait, this is free? And you just keep refilling it?” /loads up thermos

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At some point the weather became too intolerable and I needed to get inside, so I opened the first door I saw… and ended up inside Crisler Arena, home of Wolverines basketball. I should note the weather isn’t actually that cold — it’s cold and all, but I’m from Vancouver, which is basically the L.A. of Canada, except with rain instead of sun.

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Just one day away now. Should be cool.

Fin.

Video: Johansen, Fisher join in Predators’ conference title celebration

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After reaching their first ever Western Conference Final, the Nashville Predators topped that in a big way, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

There were a lot of firsts and rarities along the way.

In ousting the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-3 victory in Game 6, GM David Poile’s team advanced to the championship round for the first time in his lengthy time as an executive.

Peter Laviolette also became the fourth coach in NHL history to bring three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. The Predators are also the first 16th seed to make it this far.

Yep, that’s a long list of milestones (and not a comprehensive one). And, to think, the Predators haven’t even been on the brink of elimination during the postseason yet.

It’s special stuff, so don’t be surprised by the boisterous celebration you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

P.K. Subban: No city in the NHL ‘has anything on Nashville’

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If there’s one thing we can agree upon about the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s that these months have really cemented just how hockey-mad Nashville has become for its Predators.

(Yes, you can call it “Smashville” if you’d like.)

The scene at Bridgestone Arena was as boisterous as ever in the Predators’ 6-3 Game 6 win against the Anaheim Ducks, with legions of fans packing and surrounding the building.

Sights like these have becoming resoundingly normal for a hockey market that was once questioned by media and other fan bases:

Yeah, wow.

As the Predators advanced to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final, plenty of people were making jokes at the expense of the Montreal Canadiens for trading P.K. Subban. Of course, Subban wouldn’t take a shot at the Habs during such a great moment, but his praise for puck-nutty Predators fans says a lot in itself.

“I played in an A+ market my whole career,” Subban said, via Jeremy K. Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network. “There’s not a city in the league that has anything on Nashville.”

Whether their opponent is the Pittsburgh Penguins or Ottawa Senators, we already know that Nashville will begin the Stanley Cup Final on the road. That’s OK … Predators fans might need some time to get their voices back and recover from celebrating, so waiting until Games 3 and 4 might be a blessing in disguise.

Ducks’ Cogliano just doesn’t think Predators were the better team

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The Anaheim Ducks battled their way to Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, but Colton Sissons and the Nashville Predators ended their season on Monday.

The Ducks are processing that disappointment – being just two wins away from a trip to the championship round – and some of their reactions might spark a little controversy.

Specifically, it sounds a bit like Bruce Boudreau believing that his Minnesota Wild were superior to the St. Louis Blues despite falling in that series.

Andrew Cogliano, it must be noted, was spurned by Pekka Rinne on some early chances in Game 6. He likely feels as frustrated as any Ducks player right now.

Sisson’s hat-trick goal, making it 4-3 before two empty-netters cemented the 6-3 finish, was the dagger that finally put the hard-working Ducks down.

One can understand some of those feelings from Anaheim, especially considering the frustration of a) getting over Jonathan Bernier‘s early struggles to make a very real game of this and b) occasionally carrying the play in a dramatic way, including in Game 6.

Still, the Predators got the right combination of great stretches of play from Rinne and strong work from the expected and the unexpected, such as Sissons.

For an aging star like Ryan Getzlaf – a player who produced some of his best work late in the season and during the playoffs – you have to wonder how many chances remain.

Predators eliminate Ducks, reach first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history

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Colton Sissons made a serious argument that the Nashville Predators do, indeed, still have a No. 1 center.

At least, he certainly played that way on Monday, generating a hat trick as the Predators eliminated the Anaheim Ducks via a 6-3 win, taking the series 4-2.

In doing so, the Predators advanced to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

That 6-3 score is very misleading. While Nashville managed 2-0 and 3-1 leads, there was plenty of drama in this one, as the Ducks did not go down easily. Cam Fowler tied it up 3-3 in the third period, briefly stunning a rowdy crowd in Nashville.

Sissons was up to the task, however, settling down a bouncing puck on an otherwise stupendous Calle Jarnkrok pass to score the game-winner, notching a hat trick in the process. Sissons continues to be an unlikely hero for a Predators team dealing with the absence of Ryan Johansen (not to mention Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and others).

Two empty-netters inflated the score, and they also sapped drama from the closing moments, which must have been quite the relief considering how much resolve Anaheim showed.

Peter Laviolette distinguishes himself as one of the NHL’s most underrated bench bosses, becoming just the fourth coach in league history to take three different teams to a Stanley Cup Final. He couldn’t win it all with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he does have a ring thanks to his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps he’ll take another one this spring?

It’s quite the moment for GM David Poile, too, after trading Shea Weber for P.K. Subban and Seth Jones for Johansen, among other pivotal moves.

The Ducks might wonder what could have been if John Gibson played instead of Jonathan Bernier. Bernier struggled early, allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced and generally having a tough Game 6. Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, maintained his mostly great run in the playoffs; he protected a Predators lead even when the Ducks dominated long stretches of play.

Now the Predators get a nice rest, as the Eastern Conference Final continues with a Game 6 on Tuesday (and possibly a Game 7 on Thursday).

They’ll limp a bit toward that final round, but the Predators seem to be embracing new territory. And sometimes new heroes.