I just finished watching the “Winter Classic“, PIT vs BUF. As it got started I was geeking out HARD at the sight of the outdoor rink, the 73,000-some-odd fans packing the stadium, snow coming down hard, everything. Both teams wore throwback retro jerseys – I didn’t know Pittsburgh used to wear powder blue unis, which were just lovely. So winter-y. And sweet mother of crap, the game looks absolutely amazing in high-def.

(more after the cut)

PITthrowback  BUFthrowback

[image sources: PIT, BUF]

And then the game started, with Crosby busting through Buffalo’s defense to put a strong shot on Miller, which he saved, but then Colby Armstrong was there to lap up the rebound for a goal on the game’s first shift(!!). Crosby whipped out a few sweet moves throughout the game. The only other regulation goal was scored by Buffalo early in the second period.

Overall the pace was a bit clunky, with rapidly changing weather (snow, sleet, shifting winds, clearing up, then more snow) and several stoppages to repair the ice surface or reset a net that had come off its moorings. And the action stopped for the teams to change ends at the 10-min mark of the third period, and the 2:30 mark of overtime. No score in OT despite Buffalo having a 4-on-3 for the first two minutes. Guess who had the winner on the final shot of the shootout? Yep, Sidney Crosby! The NHL couldn’t have asked for more. It was ridiculous.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • They sang the Canadian national anthem before the game. Why? I love that anthem so I’m not complaining, but neither team was from a Canadian city…
  • They sang “God Bless America” instead of the U.S. national anthem. Why? That’s a way better song than the actual anthem, so again I’m not complaining, just confused.
  • Eddie Olczyk kind of bugged me as an announcer. Kinda amateurish and dorky.
  • Between periods, Bob Costas, despite the preemptive ragging LCS Hockey gave him, did ok. Mike Milbury (former Bruin and former owner of the Islanders) was pretty good with him.
  • However, they tittered over a 30-year old clip of Milbury in the stands of Madison Square Gardens, clocking a fan with his own shoe [youtube]. The mind boggles. I thought the NHL was using this game as an opportunity to connect with casual fans. I did not expect to see them practically glorify something that puts the NBA Ron Artest thing to shame [youtube]. Yikes.
  • Oh yeah and did I mention that the game looks freakin’ outstanding in high-def?

For me, the game was a huge success and I hope they try to schedule another outdoor game next year. New Year’s Day makes a certain amount of sense, or maybe I’m just drinking the NHL Kool-aid, but here’s hoping this becomes a tradition.