Winter Classic “Preview”

45 minutes to gametime here and I’ve been saying all week that I’m just going to approach it as any other game on the schedule, hence why I’m writing a preview for it. We all know this rivalry is overhyped by the league so much that these two teams were bound to face each other in a setting like this sooner or later. I’ve said this a few times before but whenever the Pens and Caps get together, it’s usually a great game that lives up to the hype and the last game was no different. Unfortunately for Caps fans, it ended in Pittsburgh winning in a shootout. This time, I don’t think we will need a shootout to determine the winner for this game .

Storyline

Remember how the running storyline for the 24/7 series was how the Pens were streaking and the Caps were skidding? Well, the Caps have won 4 of their last 5 and are playing better hockey than they were earlier in the month. On the other side, the Pens are still playing good hockey but are coming off a loss to the Islanders and Sidney Crosby’s 20+ game point streak came to an end.

Pens center Jordan Staal will be making his long awaited return from a foot and hand injury which have kept him out of action for the season. He was practicing yesterday and was put in the lineup tonight. Certainly good news for Pens fans.

Tom Poti will sit out this game with an injury and John Erskine will take his place. This will probably mean he will be paired with Jeff Schultz while Scott Hannan plays with Mike Green. The “shutdown” pair will likely be John Carlson and Karl Alzner and they will be on the ice whenever #87 for Pittsburgh is.

Game was moved to 8 PM tonight instead due to showers in Pittsburgh area and warmer weather than expected. Temperatures seem to be fine now and hopefully the weather wont play much of a factor in tonight’s game. Although, I think playing in the night under the stadium lights will affect the goalies ability to see some of the pucks. Let’s hope both coaches encouraged their players to shoot from every angle.

Semyon Varlamov will be starting for Washington. Boudreau has always elected to go with whoever the hot goaltender is and Varly recorded a shutout in his last outing, so I think it’s the right move to go with him. Marc-Andre Fleury will be starting for the Pens, hopefully he will look a lot more human than he did last time.

NHL On NBC/Winter Classic Drinking Game

This is a fun idea I came up with for those who also feel that this rivalry is overhyped and for those who aren’t fans of either team and want to get some entertainment out of this game. I don’t drink but I always like making these.

Drink once whenever:

The camera shows Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin when they aren’t on the ice.

Blatant corporate sponsorship is mentioned “i.e. Bud Light powerplay, Pizza Hut Intermission Report”

They mention Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner in the Winter Classic a few years ago.

They mention the process of building the rink at Heinz Field.

Ovechkin tries a curl and drag move and it’s unsuccessful.

Mike Green gets hit hard and tries to sell that he’s hurt.

A goal is scored

Drink once when Doc Emrick says the following:

“DRIIIIIIIIVE”
“SCRAMBLE IN FRONT!”

“lost in the paraphernalia of Fleury/Varlamov” or “Waffleboarded away by Fleury/Varlamov”
“and play continues?”

Whenever Doc tells a hockey story that is not related to the game currently going on.

Whenever he mentions the Capitals winning the Presidents trophy and losing in the first round of the playoffs last year.

Drink twice when:

There’s a fight

Someone from each team’s bottom-six scores (Think Hendricks, Steckel, Chimera Rupp, Asham, Kennedy)

The game has to go to overtime or a shootout

Finish the rest of your drink when:

The game gets postponed again due to weather.

Okay, that’s all I got. I came up with all of that in less than 5 minutes. Enjoy the game!

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