The Winter Classic is a spectacle, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its flaws. But the good outweighed the bad for the 2015 event.
For a game that was said to be lacking the buzz of year’s prior, the Winter Classic went off without a hitch and ended up being quite the game.
Almost everything about the game was as good as one could have hoped. From the on-ice action to the atmosphere and the show the league put on, 2015’s edition of the annual outdoor game had some great moments, with one not-so-great one mixed in.
These are the five best (and one of the worst) things about Washington’s Winter Classic.
Best: Stars coming to play on big stage
When it comes to one of the game’s biggest stages, the hope would be that the stars would come to play. Thursday afternoon’s contest didn’t disappoint. Goals came from Patrick Sharp and Alex Ovechkin, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews assisted on Brandon Saad’s tally, and both goaltenders made some incredible saves.
Best: Karl Alzner wearing sunglasses
Not only was the sight of Alzner wearing the sunglasses during what is technically a regular season game hilarious, it was functional. And though he didn’t wear them for the entire game, it was a good idea to try it out and was one of the moments leading up to the game that was worth an honest chuckle. The eye black that players have used in 2015’s contest and prior games was unique at first, but Alzner really took the whole thing to the next level.
Worst: Glare? No glare? Who cares
After two full days of debate over whether or not the game would start on time due to glare on the ice, the players decision added up to, “Meh.” They went ahead with the game, at the original start time, even with the sun beating down on the ice. The thing that makes this ridiculous, though, is that the league had to have known this would be an issue when they started planning the game. They have a contingency plan in place for nearly everything… except for, you know, the sun being out?
Thankfully, the game went as scheduled, and the glare didn’t play a factor at all.
Best: Team entrances add to spectacle
For the first time in Winter Classic history, the team entrances were actually worth watching. The teams came down the “reflecting pool” to make their entrances, the first time the NHL had employed anything of the sort of the annual game. It wasn’t a huge change, nor was it difficult to achieve, but it was a really nice touch to help show how extraordinary and unique the Winter Classic can be.
Best: Blackhawks and Capitals pay tribute to Clint Reif
Reif, the Blackhawks assistant equipment manager, passed away suddenly on Sunday, Dec. 21 at the age of 34. Chicago has been paying tribute to their fallen friend since his passing, but for the Winter Classic, one of the biggest games of the season, the Washington Capitals are doing the same. The Capitals wore the same CR decal on the back of their helmets that Chicago has donned since Reif’s passing, and it was a touching tribute to the most heartbreaking storyline of the entire game.
Best: The 2015 Winter Classic game
Aside from the first ever Winter Classic, there haven’t been many, if any, outdoor games quite as good as 2015’s contest. From the star power to the outstanding goaltending, the game was a fantastic display of speed, skill, and talent. The whole thing was punctuated with a Troy Brouwer tally with 12.9 seconds left on the clock, which was a thrilling ending to an already great hockey game.