Great Game Previews In History: 28 January 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

800px-Le_Bal_des_ArdentsOn this day in 1393, Charles VI of France hosted what would be known to history as the Bal des Ardents. Our French-speaking friends know that means “The Ball of the Burning Men,” which may be the most Conference III name for a party ever.

Charles became king on the death of his father, Charles V, at just the age of 12. Now 15, the party was intended to raise his spirits, one of many events planned to raise the spirits of Young Chuck, who had a bit of a spell the summer before.

Officially, the ball was to celebrate the third marriage of one of the ladies-in-waiting of Charles’ wife and, in the 14th century, remarriages of widows were often occasions for tomfoolery.

But this one went horribly awry.

Predators at Jets, 7 PM

Records: Predators (23-23-8, 54 points, 7th in Conference III); Jets (25-24-5, 55 points, 6th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Ondrej Pavelec made 41 saves in a 5-0 Jets win Nov. 8.

Last 10: Nashville 4-4-2; Winnipeg 6-4-0

Historical Context: Maybe the French should have seen this coming. The evening’s entertainment was dancers, covered from head-to-toe in costumes intended to make them look like wild beasts (lending the event its other name: Bal des Sauvages). But the costumes were essentially tunics, covered in resin and flax. While torches were banned from the proceedings for obvious reasons, the Duke of Orleans arrived late and drunk and waving a torch to and fro, lighting the dancers (and the king) afire.

The best laid plans can go horribly pear-shape, as David Poile and his quest for winning-through-grit demonstrate. Wild men are too often set aflame — a flame rising from the torch that is the infection in Pekka Rinne’s hip.

The king, by the way, was saved when his aunt stepped in and covered his flaming clothes with the train of her dress. She’s Paul Maurice in this little metaphor.

Devils at Blues, 7 PM

Records: Devils (22-20-11, 55 points, 6th in SUDM); Blues (35-11-5, 75 points, 2nd in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: The Devils rocked ’em January 21, 7-1 in Newark.

Last 10: New Jersey 5-2-3; St. Louis 6-4-0

Historical Context: Vengeance will be on the minds of the Blues and revenge was on the minds of the people of Paris after the ball. The situation was only calmed when Charles’ four uncles — his regents — persuaded the entire court to do penance at Notre Dame and hold a parade in which the advisors walked in humility behind the mounted king. The Blues are really in the middle of a good run, so it probably won’t take such a display to erase the memory of 7-1 — but the way the Blues are playing, the Devils may be in for a bit of humility tonight.

Blackhawks at Flames, 8:30 PM

Records: Blackhawks (32-10-12, 76 points, 1st in Conference III); Flames (18-27-7, 43 points, 6th in Pacific)

Last Time They Met: Patrick Kane got the winner for a 3-2 Chicago victory Nov. 27.

Last 10: Chicago 3-3-4; Calgary 3-6-1

Historical Context: Chicago may finally be looking into the rearview a bit as a recent slide of sorts has brought them precipitously close to being usurped by the Blues (indeed, they could be passed tonight). In the event that set up the ball, Charles was marching with his army when suddenly he drew his sword, charged his knights, killing four of them before falling into a coma, allowing his uncles to seize power again. Chicago needs to snap out of it if they want to win Conference III — but, like Charles, they need to be careful…around the Flames (yaaaaaaa!).

Wild at Ducks, 9 PM

Records: Wild (28-20-6, 62 points, 4th in Conference III); Ducks (39-10-5, 83 points, 1st in Pacific)

Last Time They Met: Corey Perry won it for Anaheim, 2-1 in California Dec. 11.

Last 10: Minnesota 6-3-1; Anaheim 8-2-0

Historical Context: Taking down Anaheim in his castle has been no easy task for anyone this season, having lost but once in regulation (to the Jets, oddly enough). It will take a special kind of craziness to knock them out. Perhaps sorcery — like that which consumed Orleans. Never the most popular member of the court, nearly killing his brother did little to aid his reputation and eventually he was assassinated in the castle for his villainy.