Was the NHL's 2015 Winter Classic a Bit Too Made-for-TV?
A funny thing happened on the way to overtime.
A power play goal.
But the Chicago Blackhawks weren't laughing, and not just because they gave it up. To a former teammate, no less.
There they were, in another NHL Winter Classic, serving as the marquée opposition to Washington's Capitals on a literally brilliant New Year's Day in front of almost 43,000 fans, which is all the Nationals' baseball stadium could hold. It was perfect for a bit of outdoor puck:
One conspicuous omission from that highlight package is how the Caps wound up on the power play that produced Troy Brouwer's game winner. The penalty that set the stage.
Rule One in any sport is don't put the game in the officials' hands. Jeff Toews knows that. But should he have known that this was going to be on the refs' taboo list?
Here it is from another angle:
The alleged hookee on that hooking call, Karl Alzner sans shades, predictably took the philosophical approach:
I don’t really think at any point in the game the refs are looking to give an easy one to a team. If you look at it really closely, a stick on the hands is a stick on the hands.
Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.
Washington's Matt Niskanen was whistled for boarding a couple of minutes earlier that, frankly, was a hit that happens a dozen times a game with no call. Perhaps that should've been Toews' -- and his teammates' -- first clue that the officials had morphed the match into shinny, ie- refer to Rule One.
Or could it be that in this, the NHL's annual highest-rated regular season game of the year, power plays at game's end make for the sort of high drama that captivates casual fans? The Hawks had a shot, and so the Caps needed theirs.
What a perfect prelude to a zippy overtime and possibly a shootout!
Somewhere in that three-act scenario, a videogenic moment would surely emerge. And inevitably, it did.
Stage-managing at its finest.