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Winter Classic

You Guys Missed A Hockey Game On Monday

The smart money here says that BockerKnocker’s biggest moment of sports-centric anxiety on Jan. 2 came when the New York Knicks suffered an awful early-season home loss to the immortal Toronto Raptors, a franchise whose claim to fame is Vince Carter winning the 2000 Slam Dunk Competition, those stupid head bands they all wore in the first round of the 2001 playoffs and that Isiah Thomas didn’t completely destroy that franchise for the next decade.

Frankly, you’d think Steven Spielberg could have made their nearly 20-year history more dramatic by now.

It is worth noting however, that the Bockers’ unfortunate loss to Toronto came after what was really the top sporting event of the day, at least for New Yorkers. Sure the Rose Bowl wasn’t bad, and the Fiesta Bowl was entertaining, too, but I enjoy sporting events that don’t end because of spiking a football after the clock hits zero and a kicker missing two game-winning field goals.

We celebrate achievement, not ineptitude.

This is where the 2012 Winter Classic comes in. Even if we want to put aside the awesome and historic atmosphere and history that comes with having an annual outdoor hockey game, though this, admittedly, is hard to do, what we had Monday night was a game that had everything. Excitement, physicality, drama, rivalry, back-and-forth action up and down the ice, picturesque snowfall — anything the NHL could have hoped for it got Monday afternoon when the Rangers rallied from a two-goal deficit to upend the Flyers at Citizens Bank park.

In many ways, the NHL got the game it was hoping for a year ago when the League leveraged every ounce of sex appeal it had in the 2011 Classic at Heinz Field, pitting Pittsburgh and Washington against one another in hopes to showcase the personal rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, arguably the two biggest stars and best players in the game. Mother nature didn’t cooperate that night, bringing unseasonably warm rain that forced the game’s faceoff to be delayed until the evening and created ice conditions that were acceptable but far from ideal.

This time around, despite the a slight two-hour delay in puck drop, we had an ideal setting, an even better game and even a little controversy before and after on both sides. The Flyers mixed things up by robbing us of seeing Ilya Bryzgalov pontificate on the universe mid-game when Bryz himself revealed during a press conference that backup Sergei Bobrovsky would be getting the start. On the side of the Rangers, head coach John Tortorella turned some heads when he intimated that the games dramatic final minute was perhaps orchestrated by the refs and American broadcaster NBC in hopes of pumping up ratings, a suggestion that is both ludicrous and almost certain to earn the coach a hefty fine — though it should be noted he apologized Wednesday.

And just what was so dramatic about that final minute you ask?

So glad you did. See in hockey a defensive player is allowed to hand pass the puck forward if he is in his own zone, but he is not under any circumstances allowed to cover the puck up intentionally with his hands. And if any player other than a goalie does that in his team’s crease, well that results in a penalty shot, the single most dramatic moment in hockey. And what’s the most dramatic way to have the single most dramatic moment in hockey? Probably a potential game-tying penalty shot in the final 30 seconds of the NHL’s biggest regular season event. Unfortunately for the Rangers, with 19.6 seconds left and the Flye… Read more...

Mambino Does Hockey?

The closest I came to writing about hockey was a post about the kid who netted a shot from center ice, only to have his prize money taken away from him. The NHL requires some actual knowledge about hockey, and maybe about Canadatoo, two things I don’t particularly care for. Therefore, enjoy this guest post from my buddy Pucklius (He has a nickname that we all know and love him by, but if I were to repeat it here, I wouldn’t be breathing tomorrow morning). It’s a preview of tonight’s 24/7 – Road to the Winter Classic on HBO. HBO does some fine work with this stuff — Hard Knocks and the 24/7 Boxing series are as good as it gets. Personally, I wouldn’t have cared to check this out tonight, but now I feel morally obliged. A small victory for the NHL in its never-ending pursuit to attract more fans.
Oh, and the guy went a little overboard with the youtube links, but some of them are actually pretty epic.

Hey kids. For those of you who have been coming to The Great Mambino to see what Dwight Howard’s choice of sandwich today says about where Orlandois going to ship him, I have some mild disappointment for you. That’s probably going to be the last basketball reference I make today because one of the administrators of this fine site has approached me to whip up something about hockey.
See, I like hockey. It’s cool.

And I’m not even talking about literally, which, if you’ve ever covered a morning skate in an empty arena, you know is definitely true. No, I’m talking about the kind of cool where you see totally bonkers forehand/backhand diving scores in the rookie game, indescribable on-ice blunders, or maybe some dazzling passing by some Swedish twins. It’s that kind of stuff that makes it the coolest game on Earth after all.

As a result of this fandom, I watch hockey. A lot of it. Like, way more than the daily recommended amount. I’m not sure I’d expect all of you to watch as much as I do, least of all the progenitors of this blog, you should know that it’s not too late to get yourself in the game, and tonight HBO just might be providing your gateway drug. That’s because tonight will be their second annual forage into hockey with its premiere of
24/7 Rangers-Flyers Road

to the Winter Classic.

For those of you who don’t remember, HBO did this series for the first time last year, when the League was poised to pit its two biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, against one another. While most of the spotlight was initially intended to be on them, the two who really made the biggest impact were cerebral Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and the then-head coach of the Capitals Bruce Boudreau, who recently endured the shortest unemployment in NHL history. Even if Boudreau wins seven Stanley Cups in a row in his new Anaheimgig, however, he will almost certainly be remembered most for his tendency to, as Lewis Black might put it, use “fuck” less as a word than a comma. This, it should be noted, did not sit well with his mother.

But what makes this show amazing isn’t just the amusing swears or close up camera work. Last season it gave fans a keen insight into the people who make the game, from how players, even superstars, talk on the ice, to the way the refs handle and encourage a fight, to penalties for losing shootouts in practice, to rookie pranks, to Boudreau’s anxiety about getting his wife a Christmas present, and perhaps most remarkably, into the refs’ locker room during their postgame beer.

The access granted and the view int