Great Game Previews In History: 2 January 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

At the French Academy of Sciences on January 2, 1860, the discovery of a planet — Vulcan — was announced.

It was claimed to exist between the orbit of Mercury and the Sun, with numerous mid-19th century astronomers claimed to have seen a black disc transit the sun. Urbain La Verrier became convinced of Vulcan’s existence after hearing the testimony of a country doctor and amateur astronomer Edmond Modeste Lescarbault, who timed this planet’s transit using a pendulum and a pocket watch.

Scientists were convinced of Vulcan’s existence due to anomalies in Mercury’s motion. Later, said anomalies would be explained using Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Today, few, if any, credible astronomers are convinced of the veracity of Vulcan and it has passed into the realm of the handful of proposed or hypothetical planets.

Predators at Bruins, 6 PM

Records: Predators (18-18-4, 30 points, 7th in Conference III); Bruins (26-12-2, 54 points, 1st in Flortheast)

Last Time They Met: Jarome Iginla scored his 9285th and 9286th time against Nashville in a 6-2 Bruins win at Bridgestone Arena Dec. 23.

Last 10: Nashville 5-4-1; Boston 6-4-0

Hypothetical Planet: Vulcan is a lot like the Nashville Predators: Tiny, plucky and generally accepted as belonging for a long time, but these days, a quaint, anachronistic afterthought in an era of tougher scrutiny.

Blackhawks at Islanders, 6 PM

Records: Blackhawks (28-7-7, 63 points, 1st in Conference III); Islanders (13-21-7, 33 points, 7th in SUDM)

Last Time They Met: Michal Handzus got the winner in a 3-2 Blackhawks victory in Chicago October 11.

Last 10: Chicago 7-1-2; New York 5-3-2

Hypothetical Planet: The Blackhawks are the so-called hypothetical fifth gas giant — some scientists call it Hades. While it’s now been expelled from the solar system and is floating around out there in space somewhere, the theory — and it’s not a wholly debunked one — is that there once existed another planet between Saturn and Uranus. The reasoning is that the current theories of planetary development actually require there to be a trans-Saturnian giant, because Uranus and Neptune, right now, don’t make any sense without it. Chicago is definitely a big, hulking giant in Conference III and, if you listen to ‘Hawks fans, the raison d’etre for everyone else’s existence.

Jets at Senators, 6:30 PM

Records: Jets (19-18-5, 43 points, 6th in Conference III); Senators (17-18-7, 41 points, 6th in Flortheast)

Last Time They Met: The Sens won 4-1 March 29 in Ottawa.

Last 10: Winnipeg 5-4-1; Ottawa 5-4-1

Hypothetical Planet: Winnipeg is, without a doubt, Planet X. Proposed for centuries — much as a return of NHL hockey was mooted for centuries to return to Manitoba — it was to be a cold, far-flung outpost (sound familiar?) of the solar system. Eventually, what was thought to be Planet X was given a name — Pluto — and searches for further Planet X’s were considered futile and pointless, much like Ondrej Pavalec.

Kings at Blues, 7 PM

Records: Kings (25-12-4, 54 points, 3rd in Pacific); Blues (27-7-5, 59 points, 2nd in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: The Kings won the playoff rematch 3-2 Dec. 2 in LA.

Last 10: Los Angeles 5-5-0; St. Louis 7-1-2

Hypothetical Planet: Our current belt holders are Tyche. Tyche is a gas giant, supposedly located out in the Oort cloud — the very reaches of what can still be called the solar system — that explains the movement and frequency of long-period comets. Like all hypothetical planets, its veracity is disputed, but, other than the now-somewhere-else hypothetical fifth gas giant, Tyche has the most backers. If the Blackhawks are the looming, historical big boy of the pseudo-solar-system, then the Blues are definitely Tyche, which influences all the lesser planets, because, as we noted, the teams of Conference III made their offseason moves not to contend with Chicago, but to try and keep up with St. Louis.

Sabres at Wild, 7 PM

Records: Sabres (11-25-4, 26 points, 8th in Flortheast); Wild (20-17-5, 45 points, 5th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Jason Pominville scored in his Buffalo return, a 2-1 Minnesota win Oct. 14.

Last 10: Buffalo 5-3-2; Minnesota 2-8-0

Hypothetical Planet: Phaeton is the name given to the first of two proposed planets that allegedly once existed between Mars and Jupiter. Like so many others, it is now discredited, this time because the scientific theory that supported its existence is considered bunkum, sort of like the theory that a coach could play the same five guys for 45 minutes a night and maintain a sustainable level of success. If Phaeton did exist, though, it was destroyed, of course. And how? One theory is that it was sucked in by Jupiter’s powerful gravity, unable to keep pace with its more established neighbors. Another is that it fell apart due to some internal catastrophe. Related: is Mike Yeo still employed?

Canadiens at Stars, 7:30 PM

Records: Canadiens (23-13-4, 50 points, 3rd in Flortheast); Stars (20-12-7, 47 points, 4th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: The Habs squeaked a 2-1 winner at home against Dallas Oct. 29.

Last 10: Montreal 4-5-1; Dallas 6-2-2

Hypothetical Planet: With Minnesota showing holes, Dallas suddenly looks like a credible contender for the final playoff spots out of Conference III. Similarly, with Phaeton dismissed, enter Planet V, a more modern and, to a degree, more accepted concept of a former planet between Mars and Jupiter. A small planet — maybe a quarter of the size of Mars — it would, nonetheless, impact the solar system for billions of years, responsible, for example, for the numerous craters on the moon. If the Stars can hold their young core together, Dallas, too, will be flinging rocks for years.

Flyers at Avalanche, 7 PM Mountain/8 PM Central

Records: Flyers (20-16-4, 44 points, 3rd in SUDM); Avalanche (24-11-4, 52 points, 3rd in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: It’s been a long time: Colorado beat Philly 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 19, 2011.

Last 10: Philadelphia 7-2-1; Colorado 4-2-4

Hypothetical Planet: Meet Theia. Theia was a Mars sized planet. Nobody thought much of it. It just floated around, all normal, never bothering anybody and not much of a worry. Then one day, Theia blasted into the Earth and, lo and behold, out spun the Moon. Nobody saw that coming (probably because it was 4 billion years ago and there was no one to see it coming). Thus, the Avs. Any chances of being a factor were waved away and then — BOOM — Patrick Roy throws himself into Conference III and they’ve made a very big impact indeed. But will these Avs be more remembered for a lasting legacy or a spectacular crash?