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Bruins and Flyers put classic in hockey's Winter Classic

Fenway Park’s ‘ice game’ reminded many why hockey is so great, though the indoor game still lacks draw for many.

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Outdoors hockey more a game of chance

“That's what you tell the guy from San Antonio: that the game under normal conditions can be as helter-skelter as baseball is structured, that pucks take way more odd hops than baseballs do, and that penalty calls can be as maddening and inconsistent as some umpires' strike zones,” he wrote.
“Add headwinds, 38-degree weather and an ice surface that chipped up quickly … and it becomes even more of a game of chance.”

Arguments about some blown calls aside, the imposition of the hockey gods’ will on the outdoor game, of course, is part of the appeal for both players and fans. And if the players who scored will likely never forget their goals, fans also got to see some classic moments. There was Philly enforcer Daniel Carcillo, who revels in his lack of front teeth, and Boston’s Shawn Thornton opening up the action with a throwdown, the first fight of the Classics.

Expressive Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas let his emotions get the better of him, pushing a Philly player out of the crease only to let the puck fly by him. And Mark Recchi’s’ late-game equalizer and Marco Sturm’s OT game-winner and subsequent on-ice jubilance (like they’d won the Stanley Cup or something, noted defenseman Zdeno Chara) helped make it a special event that at the very least, as Mr. Shaughnessy writes, reminded Bostonians that “we are, and forever will be, people of ice, blades, laces, and warm breath blowing through cold air.”

Playing outdoors, of course, is at the end more than a gimmick, but won’t define the future direction of the NHL as much as other recent moves (including a crackdown on meaningless staged fights).

But if there’s one detail of the outdoor game that the NHL would do well to bring inside, it’s the post-game handshake. Now practiced only after deciding games in the playoffs and the Stanley Cup, the handshake humbles this sometimes violent game, and adds, not detracts, from its inherent drama.

Players lining up to congratulate their opponents after yesterday’s Classic added a satisfying stanza to a game that surely left the hockey gods grinning, toothlessly.

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