Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Winter Classic Predictions

I am a Pittsburgh Penguins fan born and raised in Pittsburgh. I have also now lived in the Washington DC area for almost a decade, so I follow the Capitals rather closely. Therefore, I thought I would contact bloggers who are fans of the Pens and the Caps to get their takes on the Winter Classic, scheduled for 1:00 PM Eastern time on New Year's Day.

Your participants:

Ben of Capitals Outsider
Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Empty Netters
Sean Leahy of Yahoo! Sports - Puck Daddy
Rob of Storming the Crease
Brandon of This is Getting Old
Ngewo of Ngewo's World
Pat of Igloo Dreams
Cory of Three Rivers Burgh Blog
Sean of Sean's Ramblings

What a solid group! Anyway, I asked these folks the following five questions about the Winter Classic. Check out their responses.

1. Please predict Alexander Ovechkin's stats for the Winter Classic (ex. goals, hits, penalty minutes).

Ben -1 goal, 1 assist
Seth - 1 assist. The ice will be too slushy for skill player to do much. Expect some dirty goals.
Leahy - No goals, three hits, 0 PIMs

Rob - Ovechkin will register a hat trick, have 5 hits and 4 penalty minutes on Saturday. Or he could just skate around, hit people, and maybe register an assist. The Caps hope for the former, the Pens the latter. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Brandon - Ovechkin is always a threat every time he steps on the ice, but he has never faced a scenario quite like this before and will need change things up if he wants to be a factor in the game. Last Wednesday the Pens defense seemed to have figured out how to limit his scoring chances AND there is the potential for weather and ice conditions that will limit his mobility so his stat line will probably look something like this: 0 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +/- 0, 4 Hits, 2 PIMS, TOI: 22:30

Ngewo - 1 goal, 3 hits, 2:00

Pat - One hit, where he tries to kill Malkin (again), but misses (again) and flies through the glass above the boards instead, knocking himself out of the game.

Corey - Oh man. Michalek is going to be like white on rice (if we are talking about white rice and not brown or Cajun rice) so it is going to be hard for OV to get a ton of opportunities. He will get his scoring chances and probably put one into the nets. You think the "refs you suck" chant was bad at the Steelers/Oakland game wait till you hear the boo birds for that goal announcement. He will probably take a run at Geno and get two minutes but it won't be a Penguins power play because Matt Cooke will probably breathe to negate any Penguins power play. I also predict that OV might step foot in his own defensive zone for the first time this season. I know this is a ballsy prediction, but someone has to go out on a limb and say it. No even going there on his double tramp stamp, can't imagine how his dad feels about that.

Sean - 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes. Ovie gets all the pregame hype, but Backstrom will be the best player on the ice for the Caps.

2. Will Penguins' center Jordan Staal play and if so, how will he do?

Ben - Yes and he will suck.
Seth – No.
Leahy - No he will not.

Rob - If Staal can brainwash the Pens’ doctors, he’ll be back. If not, then he will begrudgingly watch from somewhere inside Heinz Field. If he plays, it’ll be mostly ceremonial.

Brandon - Wow, tough question. Jordan claims to be pain free and I'm sure he wants to get back out there as soon as possible but I just don't think this is the right game to do it. Even if he is cleared to play, his fitness and stickhandling will still take quite some time to reach where they were before his injury so I'm going to have to guess that he will be making his return sometime during the following week. But to answer the 2nd part of the question: If he does play, he will surely have a limited role. He probably won't be put on the penalty kill until everyone is 100% sure he is good to go. Finding a line for him is also difficult. I assume he will eventually center the 2nd line with Geno, but until his game is ready for that he will probably take most of his shifts with line 4. Can't see him being a major factor in the classic from there. That being said, I'd certainly love to have him back ASAP.

Ngewo - Yes, and he will get a SHG.

Pat - I have no inside information on this whatsoever, but my gut says no - the Pens are generally conservative and have a long term perspective. This is just another regular season game, after all.

Corey - Can't see him playing. As big as this game is to the fans and the NHL it is only one of 82 and it is the first day of January. No reason to rush him and play. He will be back later in January (hopefully) and be back to his dominating self shutting down power plays.

Sean - No but his brother will play in the Winter Classic next year.

3. How many times will Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau swear during the game?

Ben – All of it
Seth – A lot.
Leahy - I've set the over/under about 47, win or lose for the Caps.

Rob - The better question is “how many times will a microphone pick up Bruce Boudreau swearing during the game?” Seriously, he’ll probably be on his best behavior because of the national prominence of the event.

Brandon - Bruce certainly does like to use his favorite word quite often. He swears quite a bit when his team is doing well, and even more when they are not so I'm going to have to predict a number somewhere around 38.

Ngewo - 42 (36 of them will be F-Bombs)
Pat - On NBC? None. On HBO? 87 times.

Corey - Oh man. If there is a whole hour dedicated to the Winter Classic on 24/7 then I would put the number at like 78. It is not that even Boudreau makes sense when he swears. Like if you put out a book that taught you the proper way to drop the f-bomb you would see nothing from 24/7 on there. He is awkward saying things and you can tell he does it just for the camera. Maybe he is in with Vegas to try and win some money so he can buy some more Primanti's sandwiches when he is in town. He could also be shaving "points". Lord knows he isn't shaving any pounds.

Sean - Pretending to be on a Hadeed Carpeting commercial, Boudreau will be good.

4. Any predictions and/or funny comments for Friday's Capitals-Penguins alumni game?

Ben - Alan May will get into a fight.
Seth - Since Brian Bellows isn't playing for Washington, no.
Leahy - Don Beaupre is going to get lit up like a Christmas tree ... like old times.

Rob - Like everything from the past era of the Caps-Pens series, this one heavily tilts towards Pittsburgh. The roster imbalance is a joke, which either speaks volumes about the inequality of the two franchises’ alumni base or, more probably, the willingness of the Caps’ alumni to put themselves through the experience of playing in bad weather when they’re out of shape. Let’s hope the NHL doesn’t find a way to use this as a tiebreaker for the real players.

Brandon - I almost feel bad for Bondra. The lone man going up against HOFers like Mario and Coffey as well as guys like Roberts and Guerin who could still probably play today if they wanted. I'm interested to see how much intensity will be brought. Obviously, there won't be fighting or slew foots but I wonder if maybe Mario will try to split the D for ol times sake or Gary Roberts might give someone a nice smack into the boards.
-Pens Alums win by at least 5 or 6.

Ngewo - I got nothing for the alumni game, but I can guarantee that every time a Penguin gets a big hit during the Winter Classic at least 10 people will tweet (ugh, did I just use the word tweet?) that Goodell just fined James Harrison...

Pat - Nah - I'd love to watch it, but the last I heard, it wasn't going to be shown until January 5th or something like that...

Corey - This is going to be an absolute s**t show. It is going to be great to watch 66 be on the ice again and probably dominate anyone the Caps put on the ice but outside of him and some of the more recent guys that have played hockey in the last five years it is going to be pretty funny to watch. Just imagine your dad, or yourself, going out and trying to play a legit football game with his old buddies, or your alumni game if you were a college athlete. Exactly. Ton of fun for people to watch but don't expect a whole lot of great play.

Sean - Rick Tocchet will win a nice bit of cash on this game.

5. Who will win the Winter Classic (please include the final score and the player who will score the game-winning goal)?

Ben - The Caps, 4-3, Ovie will score the winner.
Seth - Penguins 2-1. Matt Cooke.
Leahy - Pens take it 4-2 with Chris Kunitz potting the third and decisive goal.
Rob - Caps 3, Penguins 1. GWG by Mathieu Perreault.
Brandon - Slushy ice and wind will probably = a low scoring game. Pens 3, Caps 1
-Backstrom scores for WSH
-Sid scores the 1st, Talbot gets the GWG, and someone gets an empty netter.

Ngewo - Penguins! 3-2, Malkin

Pat - Penguins 4, Capitals 3 with Mark Letestu getting the game winner.

Corey - The Penguins win that game like 4-2. Someone like Mike Rupp will score the game winning goal. Bing will have a few points, probably a primary and secondary assist each. Bruce Boudreau will probably consume 2.5 dozen of full wings in between the first and second period and then 4 dozen "wing dings" between the second and third period and wash it down with Diet Coke in order to "watch his girlish figure". I think the Penguins are just the better overall team right now and that will propel them to victory. I Caps are talented but I can just see Mike Green looking like a pylon and letting Mike Rupp sneak behind him after a 50 foot shot gets stopped by whatever jobber the Caps decide to strap goalie pads on. Either that or Backstrom will shoot it into his own net. It will be a good game regardless as both teams will probably be on the top of their games, as we have heard neither team cares for each other even though everyone from the Washington fan base to the management has an inferiority complex for the Penguins. So is life.

Sean - Pens 4-2. I'll go with Pascal Dupuis (the Iceman!) with the game-winning goal.

Thanks again to all of these great bloggers for participating. Please make sure that you visit their blogs. In addition, please feel free to share your own predictions in the comments section below. Enjoy the hopefully rain-free game!

1 comment:

Brendon said...

1. Shutout, but lots of swearing for 24/7
2. Yes he will play. He'll score a shorty and impregnate 3 women.
3. 153, but that's only when he finds out that the vendors don't serve Haagen Daz
4. I'm predicting a 5-5 tie with Lemieux getting two points and Coffey skating like it's '88.
5. Pens 2-0 with Chris Conner getting the winner.