It's a Celebration on Ice, Welcome to Hockey Day in America! [NHL Live Thread]
Today, we look back at some of our fondest memories. What are some of yours? I'll share a couple of mine right now before we get started, some of the best memories I have of my Pens. Naturally there's a couple incredible goals from 66, including the coast to coast goal from the 1991 finals against the North Stars, and the following year in the 4th and final game of the Wales Conference Finals in Boston when Mario skated right through Ray Bourque and Adam Oates. However, what still goes down as one of the greatest moments in Penguins history was the comeback in 1992. The Hawks and Pens came in riding 11 and 7-game winning streaks respectively...something had to give! The Hawks pounded the Pens early at the Civic Arena, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. A power play goal by Phil Bourque (oh ye of cracking the Cup in Mario's pool) got the Pens on the board. The Hawks got another goal to make it 4-1, but in the second period the comeback began. After Mario used Eddie Belfour like a pinball machine to make it 4-3 after two periods, the stage was set for Jagr and Lemieux to complete the comeback. Yes, you'd have to have been there to believe it!
Since they're the kickoff game today and playing Buffalo, my favorite moment against the Sabres was OT in game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals up in Buffalo. Of all the players, surely the least likely was defenseman Darius Kasparitis, who scored the game winner.
Now for some live hockey today, hop on board the Q train, we've got 7 games on tap and we're off to Niagara Falls...ALL ABOARD!
Hockey Day in America starts off in Buffalo as the Sabres play host to the Pens. Both teams are coming off wins in their last game, and this game will feature the leagues 2 leading goal scorers. No it's not Crosby and Malkin, it's the two guys in the picture above, Thomas Vanek and James Neal who are atop the league with 11 goals. The Pens have been road warriors this year, 7-2 away from Pittsburgh. Ryan Miller has been pretty stout for the Sabres, but whether it's the first Winter Classic, the gold medal game from Vancouver, or a hat trick in one period in Pittsburgh the same year, when he closes his eyes at night, he has nightmares of #87. I'm certainly biased, but I'm taking my Pens to get the road win in Buffalo against Miller, who's 5-10-3 in his career against the Pens with a .881 save % and 3.41 GAA, yikes!
Debi: I honestly don't know who to pick in this game. Brain tells me to Pick Pitts, but we all know I don't like Pitts, so I guess I'll go with Buffalo. Sorry Bryan, I feel like a bad friend, but I just can't go against what my dad taught me!
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Buffalo Sabres - 12:30 PM ET - NBC, TSN 2
Next we're off to the Windy City where the champs come to the United Center to try to knock off the Hawks. Still nobody has been able to do it in regulation. Chicago was all over LA on opening day and ruined the banner raising party. Can the Kings repay the favor? It's going to be a tough task. The Hawks are far and away the best team this year, and all 3 of their losses have been in the shootout. This is the second of today's NBC doubleheader, and it's sure to be an entertaining one as well! I'm going with the Hawks (sorry Becky) to keep it going.
Debi: I hate having to go against Los Angeles, I really do. Last season was such a wondrous thing to behold, and I keep expecting them to just revert to their former greatness, but it just doesn't seem to happen. I have to take Chicago.
Los Angeles Kings @ Chicago Blackhawks - 3:30 PM ET - NBC
Next we have a bunch of games dropping the puck at 6:00 on the east coast. We start in Midtown Manhattan where the team from our Nation's Capital travels to the city that never sleeps. It's the Caps and Rangers, and this one is on the NBC Sports Network. The Caps have managed to win a couple games, but they're still trying to dig out of that big hole. The Rangers have been very good on home ice. Their anemic power play is still cause for concern though. That said, I'm still picking the home team to beat the visiting Caps.
Debi: Both teams are starting to show some promise. If I pick the Caps, Eric is happy, and if I pick the Rangers, Dan is happy. Decisions, decisions. Okay, Caps it is.
Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers - 6:00 PM ET - NBC Sports Network, RDS
Our next stop is westward to the Twin Cities. The Wild host the Wings in a matchup that is sure to be interesting. Minnesota has been very good on home ice, while Detroit has only played 5 road games and it 2-2-1 in those games. Seeing how different Detroit is with the losses to retirement, and that horrific penalty killing, I'm inclined to pick the Wild. However, I'm going to go with conventional wisdom and pick the road team just because I have a feeling they'll keep treading water just well enough to sneak into the playoffs again somehow.
Debi: Ugh, I don't want to, but I guess I'll take Detroit. The Wild is just too disorganized right now.
Detroit Red Wings @ Minnesota Wild - 6:00 PM ET - FSN Detroit, FSN North
We're headed north of the border for our next game, the Jets are home against the Bruins, the two teams who lost to today's early matchup 2 nights ago, Pens and Sabres. The Jets are again finding themselves under .500 overall and on home ice. Meanwhile, the Bruins haven't lost in regulation to anyone but Buffalo. I have a feeling that trend will continue tonight even though the Bruins are the one team worse than the Rangers on the power play. Still, the Bruins will find a way to win...or is it the Jets will find a way to lose? Either way the visitors will take this one.
Debi: I keep saying how impressed with Winnipeg I am. Yes, they are still building but they are winning games! Even the closet fans are starting to wear their souvenir toques, shirts and hoodies. Both teams have struggled a little in the last few games, however, so it could be anyone's game. I'll take Winnipeg, just to be a true Canadian fan.
Boston Bruins @ Winnipeg Jets - 6:00 PM ET - NESN, TSN
Next up we're headed down to Big D where the Stars play host to Debi's Flames. The Flames have only played 12 games so far, so perhaps they're a little fresher than the Stars. I want to see the home team pounded tonight, but it's probably not going to happen, damn you Jagr! That said, the Flames did score a touchdown on Dallas earlier this week, so I am still going against conventional wisdom and picking the Flames to pull off the road victory tonight!
Debi: Calgary has already beat Dallas. I'm taking them.
Calgary Flames @ Dallas Stars - 6:00 PM ET - RSW, FSN Southwest
Our night cap is in Vancouver and this will be no easy task. The Canucks host the Blues in what could be the most exciting game of the night. The Blues are 5-2 on the road, the Canucks are 5-2-1 on home ice. The old cliche rings true here, something's gotta give! Look for this to be a close game, and I wouldn't be surprised to see OT. However, I'm taking the Blues because I believe they're just a better overall team and can find a way to get out of Vancouver with 2 points.
Debi: I'll never pick Vancouver.
St. Louis Blues @ Vancouver Canucks - 9:00 PM ET, FSN Midwest, RSN West
As always this is your official live thread, and the place to talk (or bitch) about the game(s) you're watching today. What are some of your favorite memories of your favorite team on this special day? Tell us about it while you're watching!
BK over and out