The NHL is widely known for its outdoor games and stadium experiences, but what they have planned at Lake Tahoe tops them all.
The NHL announced on Monday that two games are going to be played at Lake Tahoe. The first game will be between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche, taking place on Saturday, February 20th. The other game will be between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, February 21st.
This is something brand new the NHL is venturing into. Never before has the league hosted a game outside of a professional venue. These two games are going to be played right outside of Lake Tahoe and within the wilderness. With the Coronavirus Pandemic still ongoing, it’s assumed there will be no fans either. The games will only have the competing teams, referees, and the quiet sounds of nature in the background. This is a completely different culture than what players are used to.
These two games are going to be the best games the NHL has ever hosted outdoors, and here’s why.
First, and probably the biggest thing fans are looking forward to, is that these games help the NHL return to hockey’s roots. There’s nothing better than playing pond hockey in freezing weather with your friends. With the league bringing these four teams to Lake Tahoe, it brings back memories to the players and the rest of the hockey world.
Now, the games will not actually be played on Lake Tahoe. The rink being constructed will be placed on the 18th fairway of Edgewood Tahoe Resort’s Golf Course, located near the California-Nevada borderline, according to NHL staff writer Nick Cotsonika. Even though it’s not actually “pond hockey,” it still brings back the idea that even professional hockey can go back to the basics.
These two games are also being played by four projected Stanley Cup Final contenders, with each game consisting of its own rivalry. The Golden Knights and Avalanche are the consensus two best teams in the West, each projected to make the Western Conference Final. The game will consist of big names such as Mark Stone, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Alex Pietrangelo. With this in mind, the Saturday matchup should be in for a real treat.
The Colorado Avalanche also have some history playing outside as well, giving them a slight advantage over Vegas. In 2019, the Avalanche played the Los Angeles Kings at Falcon Stadium, losing by a final score of 3-1. Even though they lost, they still gained outdoor experience. Vegas, however, has never played outdoors in their four years of play, making this matchup an intriguing one to watch for.
On the other side of the country, the Flyers and Bruins are projected to be two of the Eastern Conferences’ best squads. The Flyers and Bruins both reached the Quarter-Finals of last year’s Playoffs, putting solid efforts on both sides of the puck. These two squads are projected to be serious Stanley Cup contenders and create some damage on the east coast.
The Bruins and Flyers have history playing outdoors as well. In 2010, the two teams faced off in 2010 for the third Winter Classic, located at historic Fenway Park. After a dog fight, the Bruins came out on top by a final score of 2-1 in overtime.
The Bruins have played in two other Winter Classic games. They first lost to the Montreal Canadiens in 2016 at Gillette Stadium by a final score of 5-1. They then played against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019, coming away victorious by a final score of 4-2.
The Flyers have played two other outdoor games as well. They first lost to the Penguins in 2017 by a final score of 4-2, and then scored revenge on Pittsburgh in 2019 by a final score of 4-3. With both of these squads having dealt with outdoor conditions, it should fair be a great game at Lake Tahoe.
Both games will drop the puck at three P.M. on their respective days, and each team will be showcasing their new, “reverse retro” uniforms. With the four teams being championship contenders and most having outside experience, fans should be in for some of the most thrilling outdoor hockey ever produced.