Road to the Winter Classic: Episode 4 Recap

By Ericka McFee

Jan 1, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; A general view of Nationals Park after the Washington Capitals defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the third period during the 2015 Winter Classic hockey game. Mandatory Credit: H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports

Road to the Winter Classic: Episode 4 Recap

The fourth and final installment of Epix Presents: Road to the NHL Winter Classic aired last night during (you guessed it!) last night’s Blackhawks game.

Given how last night’s game was a train wreck and a half, I was tempted to just switch over to my laptop and watch the episode during the broadcast. But I couldn’t quite pry myself away from the game, watching with equal parts of hope and horror.

So I decided to get caught up with the last episode today, and thought I’d remind those who might have already moved on and put the Winter Classic behind you that there was still this last episode. And although you might not want to re-live the disappointing loss, it’s still a worthwhile watch.

Unlike the previous three episodes, where the show would focus on one side for a while, this time the producers switched back and forth every few seconds to draw parallels between the games that each team played right before facing off at Nationals Park for the Winter Classic: the Hawks at home, hosting the Nashville Predators; and the Capitals on the road, facing the New York Islanders.

I didn’t put the two together, because I didn’t follow the game that the Capitals played against the Isles, but the similarities were eerily coincidental. Both the Hawks and the Caps found themselves in an early hole, with the opponents leading 3-0. Both teams rallied to tie the game 3-3.

But that’s where the similarities ended. The Caps took the Isles to overtime, but got into penalty trouble and couldn’t kill it in overtime. The Hawks came very close to a regulation loss against an important division rival when the Preds got a go-ahead goal in the waning minutes. Who other than Bryan Bickell would come to the rescue with a big goal to tie and take it to extra minutes. As we know, the Hawks ended up nabbing the extra point in the shootout.

One of the things that has amused me most about the series was the colorful language that would flow from the lips of Coach Quenneville. I’m not just talking about the F-bombs, but rather the silly and nonsensical (albeit tamer) vocabulary. Take the win against the Preds, for example. Walking into the locker room as the victory horn sounded, Q could be heard shouting something that sounded like “jiggabuggy!” followed by emphatic praise for “Picklehead” and his “big f***ing goal.”

As the Hawks departed for Washington, D.C., former Hawk and current Caps forward Troy Brouwer went to pick up his parents at the airport, having flown in from Vancouver for the game. Brouwer’s dad stated that he had a stroke recently, so travel was difficult for him.

The team practices and family skates were also fun to watch, especially for the Hawks who played a scrimmage game with members of the USA Warriors hockey team. (You can read more about the scrimmage here.)

Then came the Big Day. The players arrived as crowds had already started filing into the adjacent Spectator Plaza. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t show a bit more of the spectacle behind the game, but I suppose that may have been done to avoid duplicating the NBC Sports broadcast, or just to focus on the game itself. Perhaps a bit of both.

They did reveal the decision making process as to whether they would start on time or delay to the the sun’s glare on the ice surface. Apparently they turned the decision over to the two team captains, although the editing made it look as though it were wholly the call of Jonathan Toews. He did concede that the conditions weren’t great, but what the heck (obviously paraphrased there), just go ahead and start on time.

I won’t go into the details of the game itself, since you either watched it or read a recap, and know that poor performance on the many power plays (including a 5-on-3!) and an untimely (and likely bogus) last-minute penalty to Toews contributed to the Hawks’ loss.

After the game and the stoic handshake line, the two coaches met, and the conversation went something like this:

"Trotz: All the F bombs…Q: You got more than me.Trotz: Bulls**t!Q: [deadpans] F***! I never swear! I gotta call the cops…should have gone to OT."

The episode – and the series – came full circle as the narrator waxes poetic over views of the triumphant locker room (toasting with 40s of some beer I couldn’t quite place) contrasted with the somber locker room (some of the guys even looked like they wanted to cry).

The sun sets, and night falls on Nationals Park. Fin.

For more Blackhawks updates and conversation, follow us on Twitter@Blackhawk_Upor like our Facebook page at Blackhawkup.