The third episode of Epix’s “Road to the NHL Winter Classic” debuted Tuesday and you can watch all three episodes to date on demand here. The four-part series concludes next week. Here are the biggest takeaways from the final episode before the Winter Classic.
Joel Quenneville’s “Snow Monkey”
Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville likes to ski at least as much as he likes to curse at referees from the bench, but he doesn’t have much time for the former. Over Christmas, Quenneville and his family gather at their vacation home in Vail, Colo. Quenneville tells the story of the “snow monkey” — that’s it above — that became a lucky charm after Chicago’s coaches all kissed it prior to the 2012-13 season. The Blackhawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season, so Quenneville decided to repeat the tradition before training camp this year. (No one kissed the snow monkey before the 2013-14 season, it seems.) “We could go two for two with the snow monkey,” Quenneville says.
And then Quenneville lets us in on the joke. It isn’t a snow monkey.
“Really, that’s a deer’s ass is what it really is,” Quenneville says.
Dinner with the Ovechkins
Earlier in the episode, Epix’s camera crews tag along for a mostly home-cooked dinner chez Alex, with Ovechkin’s parents and teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov.
“I think when I’m gonna find wife, of course I’m gonna live with her,” Ovechkin said in 2011 on the second episode of HBO’s “24/7″ series about the Capitals and Penguins in 2011. “But right now, who gonna cook, who gonna clean my stuff? I’m not. I can’t do it.”
Ovi’s grown up a bit in the four years since, but his parents are still a huge part of his life. Tatyana Ovechkin cooks a traditional Russian meal, including borscht, meatballs, potatoes, lamb chops and something Kuznetsov says to describe as cow tongue. I’m struck by all of the Coke bottles on the table. At one point, Ovechkin asks his mom what’s in a salad and the closed captioning gives away her secret. At least the borscht was homemade. I think.
Beagle Time, all the time
Capitals Coach Barry Trotz makes no mention of “feeding the right wolf” in this episode, but he does talk repeatedly about “pulling the rope” and introduces us to a new phrase. “Beagle Time, all the time,” he says during practice. I tend to agree that “Road to the NHL Winter Classic” could use more Jay Beagle.
Ovechkin buys his teammates wireless Beats by Dre headphones for Christmas and Beagle asks if he supposed to plug them into his old flip phone. No need, Jay.
BREAKING: Jay Beagle got a smartphone. cc: @dcsportsbog
— Alex Prewitt (@alex_prewitt) October 7, 2014
Beagle Time wasn’t over.
“Winning always trumps everything, okay?” Trotz says after a sloppy 2-1 win at Ottawa. “But let’s be honest here, okay? That’s not how we play. That’s not [bleeping] good enough, okay. We stole that game. Got on the scoreboard with Beagle Time all the time.”
Joel Ward is ready for the Winter Classic
The Capitals’ final game before Christmas was a 4-2 loss in New York to the Rangers. Trotz tells his team to enjoy the Christmas break and that New York will be looking up at the Capitals in the standings when the season’s over.
“This is a team we’re going to pass,” he says. “We’re going to pass them. I’ll tell you that right now.”
Many players took advantage of the three days off to fly home to their families, but Joel Ward spent part of the time in New York with his girlfriend. Among the things they did was go skating at the outdoor rink at Rockefeller Center, ensuring that Ward will be more ready than anyone for the elements on New Year’s Day. Between the ice baths and the log-pulling, it seems Ward has been training for this game for a long time.
Family time when it’s not Beagle Time
We see Troy Brouwer decorating gingerbread cookies with his daughter on Christmas Eve. At the Trotz household, the Capitals coach’s three older children are in town from Nashville. They help make homemade pierogies.
The road is coming to an end
On the eve of the Winter Classic, allow Epix’s narrator to put you in the mood for some hockey:
“This has always been a sport about things that never change. No matter where you play, no matter where you’re from, no matter why you care. In hockey, you want to beat your opponent because there’s no better way to measure yourself. You want to win, because to play this game you have to know nothing else matters. Maybe someday you’ll tell someone about a story about a hockey game, about what it took to get there, about why it made a difference to two teams, about how in this sport, through it all, some things never change.”