Yesterday's Winter Classic was somewhat of a conundrum. Perfectly imperfect, yet perhaps that's what made it great. We were given the glorious spectacle of an Original Six matchup in front of the largest ever crowd for a hockey game, but it was also 105,000 people huddled together in the stands for warmth as a team of crack snow shoveling experts spent nearly as much time on the ice as did the players of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. Some of the most skilled players in the world... losing the puck as they skated through a snowdrift. The headgear of Jonathan Bernier and Mike Babcock showing us true hockey style. Breakaways and odd-man rushes slowed down to a pedestrian pace. The commentator, Mike 'Doc' Emrick, shouting with the excitement of a child anytime a puck vaguely approached the net. A goaltenders duel as Bernier continued the Leafs tradition of shutting the door on a vast number of opportunities, and Howard coming up big when he was occasionally tested. Frozen water bottles, and melting ice next to the heated benches. Whistles midway through the third period and overtime to swap ends for the wind. And lastly, a shootout, because what better way to give the fans their money's worth than flipping a coin to decide a winner?
But at the end of the day, whatever anyone thought of the Winter Classic, nothing else could have given us images as great as these.
And in Stars news, in case you missed it, there was an hour there on New Year's Eve where Dallas was tied in points with the Phoenix Coyotes for 8th place in the Western Conference. Then the Edmonton Oilers coughed up a two goal lead, giving up the tying goal with a minute left, and lost the game with seconds left in overtime. Thanks a lot Edmonton. Thanks for nothing.
But even if the Stars once more find themselves in 9th place heading into tonight's contest, the point is that they are firmly in the race. And perhaps more importantly, teams like Minnesota, Colorado, and Phoenix have all been slipping in the standings, while Dallas has been climbing. Halfway mark of the season arrives Saturday. Color me stoked for the second half.
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Anybody remember Erik Cole was a 35 goal scorer for the Montreal Canadiens not so long ago? Based on his recent play, Mike Heika thinks that guy is still in there. [Sports Day DFW]
And, not to be outdone, Mark Stepneski has his own take on Cole and the play of the Stars in December. [Stars Inside Edge]
So there's Filthy Rich and the Peverley Hillbilly (which incidentally sounds like a great name for a bluegrass duo), but the nickname most of us know is Raptor Jesus. I still don't know why, but if it has Greg Wyshynski writing about the Stars then I'm all for it. [Puck Daddy]
The Stars have lost their last 5 games to go past regulation. Taking the extra point in just a couple of those would have them in 8th in the standings. This and other thoughts as we enter a new year of Stars hockey. [On the Radar]
A busy day in Conference III as all seven teams take the ice. Great Game Previews in History breaks them all down, or rather, explodes them all in planetary collisions. [III Communication]
I'm a few days late on this one, but you're just going to have to deal with it. One last Puck Daddy 'Best of 2013' collection, wherein the Stars beat out some tough competition to take home the highly coveted prize of 'JumboTron Moment of the Year.' [Puck Daddy]
You're going to be seeing a lot about it, both here on Defending Big D and elsewhere, but the USA national team has finally been chosen for the Sochi Olympics. Perhaps the most interesting quote in light of all the talk about snubs was this one by general manager David Poile: "We did not pick the 25 best players. We picked the 25 players we thought gave us a chance to win the gold medal." [Sports Illustrated]
And here's a behind the scenes look at the selection process. [USA Today]
So Team USA has been announced, but we're still waiting to hear who will play for Team Canada. January 7th is the rumor for that release. Big question for us is whether Jamie Benn will get the nod. Big question for a lot of Canadians is whether PK Subban is going to crack the squad? [Color of Hockey]
And lastly, out with the old, in with the new. Puck Daddy has a list of the changes that will ring in the New Year for the NHL. [Puck Daddy]