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Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 01/ 2/2011

Winter Classic: Rain creates a showcase on slush

By Washington Post Sports Editors

(By Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

For the Capitals and Penguins, one of the toughest parts of a Winter Classic that began with the thermometer showing almost 52 degrees and got a heavy dose of rain in the third period was adjusting to the ever-changing conditions.

Capitals General Manager George McPhee "talked to me about it yesterday and we thought it was going to be a grind-it-out game because after we were on the ice yesterday, it didn't look like the ice conditions were going to be great," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We knew the fancy, tic-tac-toe stuff wasn't going to work. We knew we had to dump it in and win the game below the circles."

But while the less-than-ideal weather conditions certainly made creating offense more difficult, nobody went as far as to blame the result on the elements.

"The conditions were all right," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "I think when it started to come down pretty good there, you could see the puck started to bounce a little bit more. But other than that, I mean, it's the same for both teams, and both teams kind of expected to play through that."

Read more about the weather and ice conditions, plus columnist Tracee Hamilton's take on a grand event that could have been more of a showcase for hockey had the weather cooperated.

By Washington Post Sports Editors  | January 2, 2011; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  Winter Classic  
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Next: Winter Classic video: Capitals fans relish tailgating in Pittsburgh


I find this quote from Katie's game article humorous. Malkin complaining how the Caps were so overly enthusiastic about winning the game. Although he had no trouble "over" celebrating his goal by jumping into the laps of his own teammates sitting on their bench. Almost like a Lambeau leap type of thing. Speaking out two sides of the mouth. Oh yeah, almost as classy as not shaking hands at the end of the game. The Pens certainly shook the hands of the Sabres at the end of their win a couple of years ago.

While the win provided what Washington hopes will be a symbolic end to one of their roughest months in three seasons, the eruption of emotion on the Capitals' bench at the conclusion of the game - with waves of players jumping up and down and whooping - drew the attention of their rivals.

"Yeah I noticed," Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin said of the celebration, "because it's just one game of course you want to celebrate when you win, but this is not final. We still play two more times."

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | January 2, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

So I have been gone for a few days now, so if I repeat what others have said I apologize.

Man it felt good to beat Pitt in front of 40,000 of their own fans on national television.

Did anyone notice that Milburry kinda disapeared after the caps took the lead? interesting.

Camera coverage was HORRIBLE! most people that don't like hockey say they can't follow the puck...well NBC proved them right...a shame since the classic is a chance to bring in new fans.

Extended Crosby's pointless streak...yay!

Erskine looked great in that fight!

Why no hand shake at the end? Was that mentioned anywhere, b/c every other classis ended in a handshake.


can we PLEASE now wait until BB scratches your lover boy before we freak out on him? He could have played Poti last night like you assumed but he didn't. I am sure the guy will get scratched eventually (a day off wouldn't kill him)but until he starts making regualr appearences in the press box, can we please let that rant go?

Go Caps! Lets bring it to TB!

Posted by: capscoach | January 2, 2011 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Camera coverage was HORRIBLE! most people that don't like hockey say they can't follow the puck...well NBC proved them right...a shame since the classic is a chance to bring in new fans.

Well I think you had better get used to it. This current TV deal expires at the end of the season and I'm hoping abc/espn gets back in the game next season. And the players overwhelmingly want that as well.

However I don't think NBC which is owned by Comcast which also owns Versus can afford to lose hockey so will probably outbid everyone and get the deal.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The rain sucked, but that game was awesome (especially since the Caps won)! I know it's two points, but to beat the Pens in prime time, on the national stage after weeks of Crosby hype just makes it sweeter. I hope the NHL/NBC considers a permanent time change.

I can't wait for this week's 24/7. I'd like to hear the reasoning behind the Laich "penalty". Looked like the refs were trying to give the Pens a freebie, but it could have been a honest mistake. I'm also interested if the Crosbybot was able to refrain from whining about the Steckel hit in the locker room.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 2, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse


I'm not one to rain on a parade, and now's not the time to bash BB...gonna enjoy and savor the moment.

There should be no doubt that Erskine has solidified his top-6 spot, and when he does get sat by BB he should make it clear it's a "maintenance" day and that he's not sitting because his speed and/or skills don't "match-up" against our opponent.

I'll give BB a reprieve for the time being, but make no mistake...I'll call for his head everytime he mismanages the team as he's prone to doing.

I'll even show ****55 some respect and call him by his name, Shultz, so long as he remains Erskine's partner. (that's the first time I've typed his name since swearing not to)...How's that for team-support on this glorious morning-after?

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 2, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah I noticed," Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin said of the celebration, "because it's just one game of course you want to celebrate when you win, but this is not final. We still play two more times."

Posted by: CTCapsPhan

I think the translation is wrong. What I heard was "They embarrassed us at home on national television! We were supposed to win this game! It's not fair! Waaaaaaaa!" Of course, my Russian is not that good.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 2, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse


and continuing with Erskine, the fight was good but his showing at the end of the game was AWESOME! That's exactly the grit and determination he brings; no one else on the backline would've battled for position on the face-off the way he did...he didn't give an inch, he was taking inches!! Very reminiscent of the greatest defenseman in Caps history, SCOTT STEVENS!

As for the fight itself, in Rupp's defense he is one tough hombre and from what I've heard, he asked to stop the fight because a contact lens was amiss and he had trouble seeing. At that point in the fight, it was knockout or be knocked-out and Rupp was in a vulnerable position. CLASS ACT OF JOHNNY to rein-in the horses. I don't think any less of Rupp, he can still kick anyone's a@@ on our team not named ERSKINE.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 2, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse


From espn hockey podcast: BB reveals to his old buddy Barry Melrose that his next commercial will be about health food... really???

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

capscoach: Yes, terrible camera angles. Problem is that just between the upper and lower bowls at a hockey arena are PERFECT camera angles and you don't get them with a football stadium. The overhead shots were awful. But, they tried.

vermont: Good story there on the contact lens. You could tell Rupp was asking to stop. This makes perfect sense and good of Ersk to back off. I'm sure he earned plenty of thanks from Rupp for that, which is a good thing.

BTW, it's spelled "Schultz."

Team is playing much, much better overall game. Maybe all the whining we did about the run-n-gun style not working, maybe the club saw the same thing. It's was hard to expect any change, though, because all we ever heard was "hot goalie" and "can't change over five bad days." Maybe that was all pablum for the public and behind the scenes things were being done. If that's true, we still need a gritty #2 or 3 center this year and going forward, someone in the Saku Koivu mold, and some more kee-runch on the blueline. There are times in the playoffs when rock-em, sock-em robot style is what's needed.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 2, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I can see Malkin's point, but then again he doesn't understand. Of course the Caps are super happy and of course it's only one game. BUT, the Caps are changing (trying to) from glitz-n-glamour to rough-n-tumble right before our very eyes. The players didn't believe, then maybe they did believe (because they had learned it anyway when younger) and now they've won some games with the new style. This is like anytime they tell you that you must change, and you are uncertain and you lose your confidence (because you liked the "old way"). So now the Caps won on the big stage with their new style and they are of course very excited. Reminds me of when I couldn't tackle and I was taught how but uncertain and this huge fullback comes rumbling around end and I put my shoulder just above his knee and down he went. He must've outweighed me by 50 lbs, but I brought him down. Boy was I happy to get the kudos but then again I was sure happy not to have to do it again.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 2, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

tominsocal1-I don't think the Caps need to completely abandon the run and gun. They just need to learn to adapt.

In the Pens game, they went to a neutral zone trap after getting the leading. The Pens struggle more than the Caps against that style of play.That strategy wouldn't work against a team like the Flyers as Montreal showed. The Flyers would dump it in, bang some bodies and score. The Caps couldn't sit back on a lead. They'd have to use their skill to score.

What I'd like to see from BB is the ability to adapt on a game to game basis. I am encouraged by his handling of the 2nd line in the Classic. He realized it wasn't working and didn't try to force the issue. I hope this is a sign of growth and not BB going from one extreme to the other.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 2, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Best game I've seen Erskine play, particularly on the PK. Even Milbury was complimenting him on two plays he made on the Pens last PP. I think he's definitely solidified his place at one of our top 6 defensman and is our most physical blueliner. Very impressed with how all of our D played in our end and in blocking shots. This is how the Caps will have to play to win games.

I'm still mystified by Ovie's goal scoring slump. He had a breakaway and two or three chances in close, but no goals. He played his usual physical, tough game but no goals despite some great changes. Knuble looks like he's back to 100% after the broken jaw and got the Caps the "dirty" goal they needed to tie the game in the second period.

Posted by: wizfan89 | January 2, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

However I don't think NBC which is owned by Comcast which also owns Versus can afford to lose hockey so will probably outbid everyone and get the deal.

Posted by: joek443 | January 2, 2011 12:07 PM

Technically, Comcast does not own NBC yet. It is still waiting for final FCC and SEC approval, but it is believed to be approved. However, the process has been delayed and it could be delayed beyond the point of when the new deal negotiations are in place.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | January 2, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@ joek443

Another BB rank amateur commercial???..stick a needle in my eye.

Fire the bum...he plays the guy who scores 2 goals the least of anyone on the bench...go figure!

Posted by: capper3 | January 2, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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