Blackhawks News

Road to the Winter Classic: Episode 2 Recap

By Ericka McFee

Clint Reif. Source:

Road to the Winter Classic: Episode 2 Recap

Once again, the brain trust behind scheduling the airing of the Road to the Winter Classic episodes didn’t think things through very well. Common sense would tell one to look at the respective schedules for the two teams showcased in the series, and air the episodes on different days (or at least earlier in the day) from game days.

Granted, last night’s Hawks game turned out to be a stinker, so it wasn’t too hard to double task by watching the episode and passively checking the game for anything important.

I realize the previous episode recap was somewhat long-winded, and we all have quite a bit to do today with Christmas Day coming up in less than 24 hours. So I will just provide the “highlights” to give you a glimpse about what the second episode covered.

On the Washington Capitals side…

This installment of the series opened with a familiar recurring theme in these sorts of shows – the personal and family lives of the players and coaches. There are plenty of new dads among the Caps, so it was nice to see them playing with their sons and daughters. Head Coach Barry Trotz was seen again with his thirteen-year-old son Nolan, trying to help him skate in full gear.

There must have been some agreement when the Caps green lit the show that Alexander Ovechkin must have at least 10 minutes to himself per episode. We saw him take in a Wizards game, with the producers trying to paint him as “just a regular guy” by pointing out how he gets his own concessions and sits courtside instead of in a luxury suite. (Really? I didn’t know courtside was slumming it, but okay.)

Love him or hate him, Ovi is clearly not just anyone – I’m sure any old fan couldn’t simply waltz into the team’s locker room and chat up the players about how his mom was a gold medal Olympic basketball player for the USSR in the 1970s.

They switched gears to the infamous game against the Panthers when they lost in a record-breaking 20-round shootout. Surprisingly, Coach Trotz didn’t seem overly upset and fist-bumped his team for their efforts.

Other games that were shown were against the New Jersey Devils (where they won to give them a 6-0-2 record in their last 8 games) and against the Columbus Blue Jackets (where CBJs converted on a couple of power plays and prevailed in OT).

On the Chicago Blackhawks side…

Our boys headed home after the New York Islanders broke their 8-game win streak. Goalie Corey Crawford was just about ready to return and had skated in practice. In the locker room, he seemed pretty testy as he anticipated what the interviewer had in mind to ask. They also talked about the dilemma between choosing Antti Raanta or Scott Darling as the backup goalie, since both were doing an outstanding job in Crawford’s absence. Both guys took things in stride when asked for their thoughts on the matter. And as we know, Darling was the one who ultimately had to return to Rockford.

The games that were followed in this episode were the ones against the Calgary Flames (where Raanta got the start and ultimately the win), the road game against Columbus (where Crow returned but unfortunately let a puck get past him for the OT loss and Bryan Bickell couldn’t convert in his first ever shootout attempt), and the home game against the Minnesota Wild.

Some of the more lighthearted moments were when they focused on various members of the team. To no one’s surprise, they talked about how Andrew Shaw was a yappy, scrappy instigator. Bickell and Kris Versteeg and chimed in, saying that Shawzer never shuts up. They also talked about how Pat Foley was our announcer, but some of the more colorful “color commentary” came from Head Coach Joel Quenneville himself (and his abundance of F bombs).

The Hawks family skate and season ticket holder events were also nice to see. In the family skate, Daniel Carcillo joked with the Bickells about the resemblance of their three-month-old daughter. The ticket holder party at Navy Pier was also showed some fun moments of the players interacting with the fans.

They also captured some good moments of Clint Reif at work, talking about the challenges of his job and the particular habits and hangups of the players regarding their gear. They also talked about the Hawks getting the tragic news of his passing, with a red-eyed Coach Q addressing the media. To end the episode, they showed a respectful “in memoriam” screen for Reif.

I imagine they will start the next episode showing the Hawks game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, so it will be interesting (and bittersweet) to see how they show the team handling their loss and trying to carry on.

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