Arguably, the most important part of the any Winter Classic has now been squared away.
The Chicago Blackhawks unveiled their slick new threads to the hockey world on Thursday night, completing the 1930s inspired look that will take center stage on Jan. 1 when they meet the Boston Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium (1 p.m. ET, NBC).
If you’re counting down the days until outdoor hockey season, we have 54 to go until the 2019 Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, NBC) at Notre Dame Stadium.
Thursday is the start of the hype for the game as jerseys that will be worn in that game will be unveiled.
While the Blackhawks will show off their later on Thursday, the Bruins got things started with their vintage looks.
The jerseys are a throwback to what the team wore during the 1930s and similar to what we saw a few times during the 1991-92 NHL season. The ‘B’ logo on the front is made from “a two-layer felt application,” giving it a bit of that varsity jacket feeling.
In a nod to Notre Dame, the inside collar features six shamrocks with the years of each of the Bruins’ six Stanley Cup titles.
After Saturday night’s performance in the first period against the Nashville Predators, the Boston Bruins star might be getting a call from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Known for slick goals, questionable hits and even a lick or two every now and then, Marchand pulled another rabbit out of the hat after taking a high-sticking call against Predators forward Colton Sissons.
Marchand was hardly pleased after what appeared to be a phantom call and as he was getting ushered off the ice, decided to do his best Sissons impression.
It was pretty funny.
Marchand’s best Hollywood moves netted him a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute unsportsmanlike misconduct penalty on top of the two-minute call for getting his stick up a little too high.
After he and his line inspired the Colorado Avalanche to five-unanswered goals in a come-from-behind 6-3 win against the Ottawa Senators on Friday, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog was asked a simple question.
“Safe to say you guys are the best line in the league?” Altitude Sports reporter Lauren Gardner posed to Landeskog after he was named the game’s first star.
The question was placed on a tee perfectly for him. He could have been humble, I suppose. But with the adrenalin still flowing after his three-point effort that included scoring the game-winner, Landeskog made a declaration.
“Ya, we are,” he said, before skating off the ice.
Colorado’s top line has them near the top of the Central Division so far. Many expected them to be in the fight for a playoff spot, but after 10 games, they seem to be reaching for loftier goals in the best division in hockey.
Whether or not this continues is always the question.
The MacKinnon / Landeskog / Rantanen line is just unfair right now.
As good as they are in the offensive zone, the trio isn’t as well-versed in the other end. Shot share numbers for all three, for instance, sit below 50 percent. They give up more shots than they put on goal. Consequently, they’ve also given up more high-danger chances than they’ve created.
What’s helped is that of the 28 high-danger chances against, only one has crossed the goal line. Of the 23 they’ve produced against their opponents, eight of them have found the back of the net. For every three high-danger chances they come up with, one is being added to the score sheet.
Credit good goaltending for the low high-danger goals-against from those chances.
Avs starter Semyon Varlamov has a .931 save percentage on high-danger chances. Only New York Islanders netminder Robin Lehner is better. Furthermore, Varlamov’s 5v5 save percentage is impeccable at .953 this season.
Goaltending, it can be said, has saved the line at one end of the ice.
Landeskog is shooting at 28 percent right now and the rest of the line is near the 20 percent margin. Percentages in the 20s won’t cut it in school, but on the ice, they’re the equivalent of straight As. Even the league’s most elite shooters don’t sit around those numbers over the course of a season. Alex Ovechkin, for example, scored 49 goals last season and held a 13.8 percent shooting percentage. He’s never surpassed 15 percent in his career in a single season and is widely regarded as the best goal-scorer of his generation — and one of the best all-time.
So talk of Rantanen being on pace for 150 points is fun and all, but likely unrealistic given the inevitable regression that will come.
This isn’t to take away from anything the line has accomplished so far. They’ve been incredible thus far at producing points at a feverish pace. They’re also very exciting to watch.
Are they the best line in the NHL, however?
Production-wise, yes. There’s no argument there.
But all-around game as a unit? Consider that Boston’s top line is working with a near 60 percent possession rating and is still putting up impressive numbers on the scoresheet.
And Colorado’s top unit has the benefit of recency bias after their big game on Friday. If Boston’s best go out and drop a 10-spot tonight, the argument on Sunday shifts once again.
The top line in the NHL? Well, that will always be up for debate (points to comment section).
The Bruins top line of Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand has picked up right where it left off last season. Bergeron gets the first-star spot on Monday after scoring his fourth career hat trick and adding a helper in a four-point night. Pastrnak was exceptional as well in the Bruins 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators, compiling his own four-point game with two goals and two assists. Marchand chipped in three helpers for good measure.
A new team meant a new start for Lehner, who opened up in the preseason about a difficult time in his personal life. Coming from the Buffalo Sabres after being signed as a free agent this summer, Lehner had to wait his turn to get his first start in the Islanders’ crease after Thomas Greiss got off to a good start, stopping 45-of-46 in New York’s season opener. But after Greiss was shelled against the Nashville Predators, Lehner was given the green light for his debut. Lehner appeared more than ready was ready Monday, stopping all 35 shots sent his way by a potent San Jose Sharks team to post his ninth career shutout.
Here’s a stat: Not since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13 have the Sabres had a record better than .500. That’s incredible in its own right, and the reason why they were able to break out of that funk has been the stellar play of Eichel to start the season. Eichel fired home two more goals for his second and third of the season to lift the Sabres past the mighty Vegas Golden Knights. Buffalo had a tough outing in their season opener against the Boston Bruins but have rebounded, beating the New York Rangers and the Golden Knights to carve out an early 2-1-0 record. Eichel has been a factor in both wins after picking up a goal and an assist in the Rangers game. He’s billed as a stud and now has some decent talent around him to strut his stuff. Don’t sleep on Buffalo this season.
Highlights of the Night:
Bergeron’s backhand sauce is filthy here after leading the rush down the ice. He had a hat trick on the day, but this was arguably his best play from the win.
Eichel had himself a day, and this forehand-to-backhand sorcery was too good for Marc-Andre Fleury to ever have a chance to save.