During the pandemic, what has felt like years of uncertainty and slow, boring days can really start to take a toll on people and the things they get excited over in today’s world.
Although we are very far from what we perceived as fun or exciting just 11 months ago, as a hockey fan, you have trouble not finding a way to get hyped up over a big day in the National Hockey League, especially one with so many momentous headlines.
Things kicked off early in the day around 9:30 AM, and the final buzzer didn’t sound until about 11:00 PM. So the day was long, but better yet it was filled will things to recap and amazing storylines to cover.
A super-milestone for one of the NHL’s greatest ever, a pair of huge nights from the two biggest superstars in Canada, as well as an absolutely mesmerizing sight to see at Lake Tahoe in California, as the latest edition of ‘NHL Outdoor Games’ was set to take place.
For those whose lives called for them to make an impact on the world today, I fully understand. My duty on this Saturday was to do nothing but sip some warm green tea, sit back and watch some fantastic action on the ice from the comfort of my couch, so let me tell you all about what you may have missed.
Sid the Kid Hits 1,000 –
From waking up at 5 in the morning and driving fully geared-up to the local arena in Pearl Harbour, Nova Scotia to registering 1,000 NHL games played and counting, Saturday was a day of celebration for one of the NHL’s biggest names.
Sidney Crosby has all the hardware you could think of, and then some. From individual awards like the Hart and Conn Smythe trophies to the team successes in three Stanley Cup wins or double Olympic gold medal’s, but for a player who nearly saw his career take a drastic turn after savage concussion issues in the middle of his prime, 1,000 games feel different than anything else.
Crosby’s whole career has been looked at through a microscope. He was the highly touted prodigy that every NHL team dreamed of winning the ’05 draft lottery to obtain. Once he was in the NHL, he was in charge of rejuvenating the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise, to be their next Mario Lemieux, in a way.
In his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday against the New York Islanders, Crosby picked up the second assist on Kris Letang’s game-winning goal late in the third period, earning his team the 3-2 win and added a little extra pep to the historic night.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 21, 2021
It is safe to say that Sidney Crosby is nowhere near done with his illustrious NHL career, and whatever happens next is just icing on the cake. For what Sid has done for the game of hockey in Canada, as well as the city of Pittsburgh, we are forever indebted to number 87.
Two Big Names, Two Big Nights –
With this season being so special and strange at the same time, one thing that by now is affirmative is the fact that the North division is likely to produce the top names on the NHL’s scoring leaders for the 2021 campaign.
The way the game is played between the Canadian squads is so different from the rest of the league. Some of that can be attributed tot he fact that most of the teams are very top-heavy in the wy their rosters are assembled.
Well, on Saturday night we saw that on full display and boy was it enjoyable to watch.
7 of the top 10 point scorers in the league heading into the day played for Canadian teams, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Tonight, it was once again the two top dogs, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews proving why they are worth the price of their superstar contracts.
Starting with Matthews, who has been on an absolute tirade as of late. After lighting up the Canadiens for another 2 goals and 2 assists on Saturday, he now has 18 goals and 11 assists in 18 games this season, and 7 goals in his last 4 games.
To think Matthews performance could not be upstaged was so naive of me, as the second game of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader was the battle of Alberta, a situation we knew the captain of the Edmonton Oilers was licking his lips for.
Something tells me that Connor McDavid got to watch a little bit of the Leafs game prior to his own, as you could tell before the puck even dropped that 97 had a little extra gas in the tank for this one.
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) February 21, 2021
McDavid didn’t let Calgary begin to believe they had a chance on this night, his 3 goals and 2 assists in less than half the game was enough to show everyone who the best player in the world still is, no matter how impressive others around the league maybe.
We are now creeping closer and closer into Gretzky type production for McDavid, who has 37 points over a 20 game span to start the year, will he reach 100 in a short season?
A Long Day at Lake Tahoe –
The stage was set and was it ever gorgeous. As you could see in the pinned tweet earlier in the article, Lake Tahoe Resort in California was the setting of the NHL’s first outdoor game in a years time.
The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche were set to play each other in a matinee on the Lake, but the sun and ice conditions had other plans.
Ice causing some issues at Lake Tahoe. Players and refs getting caught in ruts pic.twitter.com/cUkTIpdyLm
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 20, 2021
The game had to be delayed for 9 hours after the first period due to unsafe playing conditions for the players and officials, so the outdoor game at Lake Tahoe quickly turned into a nighttime battle under the lights.
Although the scenes were not nearly as pleasant for the eyes, the play actually was a lot higher quality than we saw at any time earlier in the day.
The Knights and Avs, two of the best teams in the West division, went back and forth on the scoresheet, with Colorado eventually edging out a 3-2 victory on the back of Devon Toews insurance marker in the third.
After all of the hard work from maintenance staff and I’m sure lots of off-ice commotion within the league, the game was able to be played without issue. Not to mention how great it was to listen to Mike Tirico call the game for NBC Sports.
Lake Tahoe will be the setting for another outdoor matchup tomorrow night at 4:30 PM when the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers go head to head.
Evan Power, Evolution 107.9