Outdoor hockey in Los Angeles is different.
Let's just get that out of the way. Saturday's big NHL Stadium Series debut in Dodger Stadium didn't feel right. The usual freezing temperatures and falling snow we've become accustomed to was replaced by humidity and beach volleyball courts.
Different doesn't mean bad. The league put on a decent show in L.A., and the play on the ice was much more crisp than any other Winter Classic in recent years. But for many fans, the laid-back atmosphere had to feel foreign.
However, the night wasn't just about one game. It was about the league's growth in unconventional markets like Southern California. Over 10,000 players participate in the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks youth leagues. Players like Emerson Etem, Beau Bennett and Matt Nieto have reached the NHL after learning the game in California. The league managed to fill 54,099 seats at Dodger Stadium on Saturday to watch a hockey game.
So even if the game felt a bit too warm or decent for an outdoor game, the league and fans should be pleased with the outcome. Southern California deserved a pleasant night to celebrate the outstanding growth of hockey at home.
All the NHL Scores
Blues 4, Islanders 3 (SO)
Bruins 6, Flyers 1
Jets 5, Maple Leafs 4 (OT)
Ducks 3, Kings 0
Sharks 3, Wild 2 (OT)
On Saturday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. What does outdoor hockey in L.A. look like?
See above. As for the game itself, the Kings probably want to forget it all.
The LA Kings enact Plan B of the Stadium Series entertainment and cover up any evidence this game ever existed. pic.twitter.com/LswIvIzCiG— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) January 26, 2014
2. Will James Neal and Matt Niskanen show Dallas fans what they've been missing?
The former Stars took a backseat on Saturday. Then again, so did the rest of the Penguins. Dallas dictated play from the opening faceoff, forcing the Penguins into making mistakes with their aggressive speed and capitalizing on the numerous power play chances awarded to them. Alex Goligoski, the whipping boy whenever the Neal trade is brought up, shut everyone up with a truly impressive performance that helped Dallas shut out the Pens.
3. Who rights their ship in Montreal?
Not the Habs. Not only did they get shut out, but they gave up five goals to a team that had lost seven consecutive games. Is it time to fire Michel Therrien?
Washington has been the worst team in the NHL for a month. Montreal makes them look like contenders.— Subban sucks (@AndrewBerkshire) January 26, 2014
4. How do the Maple Leafs bounce back?
They didn't. James Reimer had another terrible performance in net, and it might be time for Randy Carlyle to finally make Jonathan Bernier the official number one netminder in Toronto. The Leafs did their part to come back and force overtime, but Dustin Byfuglien ended things with a wrist shot from the slot.
5. Will the Flyers avoid extending their losing streak?
A day game? Against Boston? Why did we ever ask this question?
The one play or moment from Saturday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
The New York Islanders are in a precarious position in the standings. After such an abysmal start to the year, any lost points are huge. So the fact that they blew a 2-0 lead to the Blues was painful. How the game almost ended was even worse.
Thomas Vanek appeared to score the game-winning goal in overtime when his skate deflected the puck past Jaroslav Halak. Upon further review, the big wigs in Toronto ruled no goal due to a distinct kicking motion.
Does this look like a distinct kicking motion to you?
(via Islanders Point Blank)
As it was, the Blues ended up winning in a shootout. Valuable lost points for New York.
Stat of the Night
In the last 6 months, Corey Perry & Cristiano Ronaldo became the 1st players to score a goal at Dodger Stadium in their respective sports.— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) January 26, 2014
Post to Post
- Should we change how we think about team defense?
- Do in-season coaching changes even work?
- Vin Scully narrated NBC's intro to the Stadium Series, which was pretty cool.
- But not as cool as Jeremy Roenick getting beat up by some kids.