Well, here it is. The Greatest Hockey Event Of The Year (and yes, it might only be January 1, but no other game need apply for the rest of 2008, okay?). We got ourselves warmed up for the Big Game by watching yesterday’s pregame drivel – wait, no, “programming” (sorry) on NHL Network, and now we’re kind of confused about what to expect. On the one hand, everyone seems to think we’re going to be seeing a bunch of pros getting to just cut loose and shinny things up, playing under the open sky just like they did as kids (and, um, playing in an NFL stadium just like they did as kids?), goofin’ off, havin’ fun and doin’ it for the love of the game. On the other hand, this is a Very Important Game, as Bill Clement reminded us when he discussed the last OUTDOOR GAME. He seems to think that losing that game cost Edmonton a playoff berth. That really blows that they lost just that one game all year, huh? But seriously, this is a regular-season game, with regular-season implications, and regular-season points on the line. The league doesn’t want us to lose sight of that, but they also want us to believe this is just a big round of pond hockey in a football stadium. In other words, the NHL wants to have its cake and eat it too. Let’s see how that works out!
Finally, the live programming on NBC kicks in. Nicely done, Mother Nature, giving us some picturesque snow. After an intro that makes us want to throw up for its schlockiness, we then cut to Blob Costas inside the stadium, prompting Pookie to say, “This is why I moved back East: Blob Costas standing on a dirty pile of snow.” Thinking back to the bitter, bitter cold of the last OUTDOOR GAME, we are confident the NHL is every which kind of pissy that it’s not so cold that guys aren’t suffering immediate, gruesome frostbite on any exposed skin. Every time we see someone who isn’t a mummy of outdoor gear, we shout, “Oh no! His [body part] is going to fall off.” So far the body count is at Mike Milbury’s hands, and Blob Costas’ head.