Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sportsology: Winter Classic recap

By Rick Morris

You've seen our Lounge updates on Twitter today about the NHL Winter Classic, fed by our friend Russ Cohen from Sportsology, with whom we have a content exchange agreement. He had a great time today at Wrigley Field and supplied numerous great updates. It is worth mentioning that both he and I were very pleasantly surprised by having other hockey scribes mention to him having seen these updates on Twitter. It's hard to wrap your mind around that. Sure, the world is changing so quickly in terms of technology, but the notion of our tweets getting seen to that degree -- at a time when we're still trying to get a feel for the reach of Tweeter -- is amazing.

The Sportsology pictures are definitely worth checking out; they can all be seen right here.

Without any further ado, here's Russ's definitive recap of the day.

Detroit dominates Hawks late in outdoor classic
By Russ Cohen

Chicago - - The Detroit Red Wings, behind goaltender Ty Conklin’s 33-save performance, scored five consecutive goals at one point to get the 6-4 win and the important two points in the standings.

Chicago's Kris Versteeg got the first goal. It was a power play goal. Marty Havlat blasted a slapper and the Hawks rookie put the rebound beyond Conklins’ reach to make it a 1-0 game at 3:24 of the opening period.

Huet did a nice job of looking through the traffic Detroit had setup in front of him on the Wings' first power play. Wisniewski did a great job of hammering Tomas Holmstrom, who was planted in the crease on the power play. But that kind of play wouldn't last for Chicago.

Mikael Samuelsson scored a power play goal from the slot and that quieted the crowd a hair. Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa got the helpers at 9:50 of the second period to make it a 1-1 game. The Swede really had a head of steam going when he drove to the net.

Mike Babcock looked regal on the Wings bench with his stylish hat.

Versteeg set up Havlat in the slot with a beautiful backhand pass that the Czech forward buried to make it a 2-1 game at the 12:37 mark. It was another power play goal. Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell got the other helper.

Zetterberg did ring the crossbar on a short-handed effort.

The Hawks took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Ben Eager, who beat Wings d-man Andreas Lilja on the backboards and he eventually jammed home the goal at 18:18 of the first period. Havlat got the assist and his third point of the period!

The Wings came out storming in the second period and Jiri Hudler scored from Huet’s left at the hashmark to make it a 3-2 game at 1:14 of the second period. Hossa and Zetterberg got those assists.

Hossa ran into Huet at 11:28 and he hit the Hawks goaltender so hard that he was lying down on the ice! He did eventually get back up.

After three whacks at the puck, Hudler scored another goal down low at 12:43 to tie up the action 3-3. Dan Cleary and Brian Rafalski got the assists on the play.

“It was great getting two goals, but I give a lot of credit to the guys out on the ice,” Hudler stated.

Pavel Datsyuk practically went end-to-end and weaved through two Hawks defenders; going forehand-to-backhand and he buried it to give Detroit the lead for the first time in the game, 4-3. Rafalski got the helper for his second point in the period.

Rafalski’s power-play goal gave the Wings a two-goal lead at 3:24. The backhand went five-hole on Huet, who was slow in covering up. At this point they were peppering Huet and then a shot by Brett Lebda appeared to hit the bar and come back out without getting the net, but NBC had the angle that showed that it was in fact a goal. The crowd mostly jeered “Noooooooo!”

Nikolai Khabibulin (who played a lot of outdoor hockey in Russia) entered in relief after that goal. But the Hawks scored one more in a 6-4 defeat.

Ty Conklin talked about the weather conditions following the game. “It wasn’t nearly as cold as the Edmonton game. It got colder as the game went on. It was colder than in Buffalo last year.”

Zetterberg loved the experience. “I thought it was a great experience. There were a lot of people here and it wasn’t too cold for us. To play in Wrigley Field with all of the history and win the game too that was an important game for us. I think we played a good game in their end. We got the pucks in deep and worked on their D,” he said.

He was wearing old fashioned eye black and when asked if that was the first time he had ever worn that he answered, “Yes it was.”

And Conklin sent a message to every team the NHL. “If you are going to beat us you are going to have to play your best game.”

Notes - - Listening to CBC and watching the game on NBC was a great combination. The game time temperature was 31.9 degrees….The Detroit players led by Johan Franzen were kicking around the soccer ball on the concourse with fans watching them. Usually they do this outside the locker room, but here at Wrigley there isn’t any room for that. They were joking around with each other about looking foolish but they laughed and kept on kicking…. The chants of “Detroit Sucks” were almost as loud as “Lets go Hawks”….The anthem was the loudest I had ever heard…. Vince Vaughn was in the luxury box and hanging outside in a Red Blackhawks hoody….In-between the first and second periods the longest bathroom line in the history of professional sports materialized!

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