DENVER - Another Stadium Series game in the books, and overall it was one of the more successful ones. Coors Field was sold out. The Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche played two periods of fantastic hockey. It snowed. Sorta. And, of course, the alumni from both teams put on an entertaining and nostalgic “final chapter” of their blood feud on Friday night.
Here’s the best and worst from the NHL Denver Stadium Series celebration.
BEST: All Alumni Game Everything
This was arguably the best alumni game the NHL’s ever presented, and not just because of the chaotic history between the Red Wings and Avalanche – it was actually a good game! Players were throwing cross-checks, blocking shots, playing chip-and-chase. The goalies made legit saves. It was fun!
But the real draw, of course, was the rivalry. It’s amazing how both teams were principally made up of players who took part in that bone-crunching feud. (And also Stacey Roest.) It's also amazing how many of them were in better-than-good playing shape.
So we got to hear the fans boo Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieux, see Kris Draper cross-check Adam Foote, watch Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman score goals and wonder if Patrick Roy was going to remove himself from the game or not.
And then after the game was done, there was just as much hype for the handshake line.
It was the perfect capper for this rivalry. We don’t need to see the Undertaker wrestling Triple-H in another cage match. This’ll do.
WORST: The Second Period
The first period of the actual Stadium Series game had good pace, some scoring and hooked you immediately. The second period was repellant: no goals, three wasted power plays and nothing in the way of memorable moments. The crowd lost a little of its mojo as well, but that’s what you get for booking The Fray in between periods.
BEST: The Standing Room Only Seats
They arrived when the gates opened for the NHL Stadium Series game at Coors Field at 3 p.m., sprinting around the building, up the stairs and reporting directly to a place where they’d be standing for roughly the next five and a half hours.
But for between $65-$90, depending on where and how you purchased them, the “party deck” standing-room only seats were arguably the best in the house. Great sightlines to the ice, and they were able to enjoy the scope of the Stadium Series experience and a fun social atmosphere. Sure, the wind sucked as the night went on, but if you want an antiseptic experience, go to the arena.
WORST: All Of Those Camera Angles
NBC loves its bells and whistles when it comes to Stadium Series coverage. Cameras on the glass. Cameras on wires. Cameras in a blimp. But it’s really never a good thing when people are calling your camerawork “nauseating” and “awful” and that it “blows.” Unless you’re making CLOVERFIELD, we mean.
BEST: Fake Snow Blizzards
We love outdoor hockey because of the unpredictability of playing in the elements. The best ones are the ones affected by the elements, like snow showers or bitter cold.
In Denver, it wasn’t that cold, and there wasn’t any snow. OK, check that: There was fake snow, as high winds in the third period blew apart the cotton “snow” the NHL had around the rink. Giant swaths of the stuff flew into the crowd and whirled around in mini-tornados in the outfield. But the intensity of that wind kept the faux-snow off the ice.
Sight of the night: NHL employees running around, trying to corral the “snow” like a farmer chasing little white piglets.
WORST: Andy Grammer
The Fray were fine. But is it too much to ask for something a little more “stadium sound” to pump up the crowd before the game than Not-Ricky-Martin singing all those songs on the radio you think are as pleasant and innocuous as an ABC Family sitcom.
BEST: This Kid
A child finally provided Roenick with a sparring partner he doesn’t outwardly dislike on NBC.
WORST: This Guy
A Frankenjersey that should be burned with fire.
BEST: Patrick Roy
What an amazing kick it was to see Roy turn aside 20 of 21 shots on goal by the Red Wings alumni, picking up a win (and, of course, closing in on Brodeur in the process). The only thing that was missing was a goalie fight with whoever was wearing the Winged Wheel across the ice.
He also had the quote of the weekend, after the Avalanche were outshot in their alumni game victory: "Yeah, but our Corsi was not very good, though."
WORST: The Power Plays
The teams were a combined 0-for-8 in the Stadium Series with the man advantage. The Red Wings in particular sucked the joy out of event during meandering power plays.
BEST: Avalanche Jerseys
A stick-tap to the Colorado Rockies and a clean design, the Avalanche jerseys for the Stadium Series game were an improvement over the current model. A significant improvement.
WORST: Red Wings Gloves
At best, they looked like Hulk Fists spray-painted white. At worst, they looked like oven mitts.
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