There are many, many previews out there right now for Saturday’s 2011 Winter Classic between the Capitals and the Penguins.  This is not one of them.  We generally don’t preview regular season games here on BSR, especially hockey games.  Instead, here’s a viewing primer for your Saturday (1pm weather depending) couch-planting pleasure.  All items are rated on a scale of Zero (shutout) to Three (hat-trick) “Ovis.”

Three Ovis!

Star Power
Some say that this Winter Classic is just the NHL trying to shove its two biggest stars in your face on national television.  And you know what?  Those people are exactly right!  Why WOULDN’T you have these guys play in your signature event?  It doesn’t stop with Ovechkin and Sid the Kid, too.  Anyone being honest with themselves knows that the casual and hardcore hockey fan alike deserve the best on the one national hockey event of the year.  Tomorrow, lots of hungover people are going to be exposed to some great talent.  In fact, here’s a quick fantasy team made up of the best guys on these rosters.  This team would go 76-4-2:

Centers: Sidney Crosby (PIT), Nick Backstrom (WAS), Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Jordan Staal (PIT)
Wingers: Alex Ovechkin (WAS), Alex Semin (WAS), Chris Kunitz (PIT), Brooks Laich (WAS), Pascal Dupuis (PIT), Mike Knuble (WAS), Jason Chimera (WAS), Tyler Kennedy (PIT)
Defensemen:  Mike Green (WAS), Kris Letang (PIT), Brooks Orpik (PIT), Jeff Schultz (WAS), John Carlson (WAS), Paul Martin (PIT)
Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), Michal Neuvirth (WAS)

Look, I love going to Caps games, I do.  However, I must confess I don’t love going to football games.  I love watching four football games at once, in high def.  The Winter Classic is in a football stadium in January.  In Western Pennsylvania.  Let’s just say I didn’t go running to the mailbox when the Caps sent me a letter offering me the opportunity to purchase tickets.  My house is warm, has all my favorite snacks, and there is nary a Terrible Towl in sight.

If you love hockey, the Classic is like Thanksgiving to the Stanley Cup Final’s Christmas.  No awesome presents at the end, but still no work and lots of gravy.  Yes, I realize that the game is being played on New Year’s and that further confuses my analogy.  If you just like sports, it’s a great one-shot dose of something unusual and well done.  Forget all that Field of Dreamsy crap about playing the sport the way it was intended.  Plus, building a hockey rink the middle of a stadium is just cool.  It’s like Modern Marvels invading the NHL Network.

Hating Pittsburgh
Ravens fans who are still bitter about the Sunday night loss in week 13 to the Steelers (or just the Steelers’ existence in general) would do well to take this opportunity to treat Crosby like he’s Big Ben.  Just wait, all those Terrible Towls on TV will boil up the anger in you!

Whatever you have to do to get somewhere with HBO (or YouTube), do it and watch this show.  It’s like Hard Knocks, but cooler because it’s hockey players.  Such a tragedy it’ll only be 4 episodes.  I’d watch a “24/7” about a church group putting on a chili cook-off.  That’s how much this show rules.

Two Ovis

Look, football will be over soon.  Any excuse to gorge yourself and lie on the couch for three hours is okay in my book.

Rivalries are much better for the third party.  During the Yankees-Red Sox blood wars of the mid ’00s, I was captivated.  Look how much these guys hate each other!   This will be good for the one-game-a-year viewer.  However, the real fanbases know that 50% any rivalry is manufactured by the media, 40% of it is legit dislike between fanbases, and 10% is actually the players not liking one another.  Even that is a stretch.   I’ll bet there are some guys within the teams who flat out don’t like one another.  You’re telling me that if 23 people work in your office, you love all of them?  The rivalry factor adds some pop, sure, but don’t pretend like Ovechkin and Crosby are planning on kidnapping each others’ girlfriends and tying them to the railroad tracks.

Throwback Uniforms
I’m a sucker for cool throwback uniforms.  However, both teams missed the mark here and thus, they only get two Ovis.  Caps should’ve gone with the white helmets and blue pants that they used to wear with white sweaters (both are now red).  The Pens really screwed up.  They chose “generic blue old-timey sweater” when they could’ve rolled with this beauty.  Call me crazy, but you’re in Heinz Field where the seats are all gold, and you’re the home team, wouldn’t it be good to, you know, wear some gold?

Alumni Game
I’m not that psyched about this because it’s a) taking place at 9:30 am today b) The Pens alum roster is far superior to the Caps and includes Mario Lemieux, c) It’s still old guys playing hockey d) It’s not actually being shown on TV until January 5th, or e) all of the above?

One Ovi

I know there’s probably not a better network alternative for this, but it just feels like every time they get ahold of hockey, it sucks.  I cannot wait til the NHL television contract is back with a big network and it’s not treated as a “special television event” like the stupid Olympics.

I actually don’t mind a good hockey fight.  Last year, Shawn Thorton and Dan Carcillo threw down at Fenway, and something tells me we will probably see one bout tomorrow as well.  This will be a great opportunity for every pundit and obnoxious family member watching with you to complain about violence and barbarism in hockey.  The debate about fighting should or should not be a part of the game is just so old to me by now, it’s like the BCS/playoff argument.  I don’t even care who’s right, I just want everyone to shut up.

In the standings, this is still just one game out of 82.  Both of these teams are going to make the playoffs.  They’ll play again in February.  Twice.  Everyone I would consider an acquaintance I think knows I’m a huge Caps fan.  95% of those people don’t watch the NHL.  But half of them will catch or hear about this game’s outcome.  And if the Caps lose, I will hear about it until the next time they work their way into a Jay Leno monologue.

Zero Ovis

If the game gets delayed til the evening, I’ll be mildly annoyed and irrationally blame it on the city of Pittsburgh.  If it gets moved to Sunday, I’ll be deflated but accept that I get to see some hockey.  If the whole weekend is rained out, well, I just wasted two hours writing this.

Possibility the Caps Will Lose
Remember all that stuff I said about the game being meaningless?  Well, someone remind me of that if I begin sobbing while that smug #87 celebrates a shootout goal win like he did in the ’08 Classic.