Great Game Previews In History: 31 January 2014

by J.R.

Today In History

472px-Explorer_1_conferenceExplorer I, the first American satellite (and the third overall after a pair of Sputniks), rides to space atop a Juno I rocket, on this day in 1958.

It was the beginning of the successful U.S. space program and, ergo, the beginning of the Cold War Space Race.

It stayed under power for 136 days and in orbit until 1970 making more than 58,000 orbits.

Hers was a scientific mission — part of the International Geophysical Year — but there’s no doubt there was a little of “oh hey Russia we can do that, too (finally!)” involved too. After all, the U.S. trotted out Wernher von Braun at the press conference (as pictured). That’s a little bit of a how-do-you-do to the Soviets.

Blues at Hurricanes, 6 PM

Records: Blues (36-11-5, 77 points, 2nd in Conference III); Hurricanes (24-20-9, 57 points, 5th in SUDM)

Last Time They Met: Alex Steen got the winner in a 4-2 Blues victory November 16.

Last 10: St. Louis 6-4-0; Carolina 6-4-0

Historical Context: It would take the U.S. until Vanguard 1 reached orbit in March to tie the Russians (Explorer 2 didn’t reach orbit), but once the tie was achieved, the U.S. started to keep pace and then began pulling away in the space race. St. Louis has a chance to tie the Blackhawks atop Conference III tonight and with all those games in hand, the Blues may secure the lead going into the Olympics.

Devils at Predators, 7 PM

Records: Devils (23-21-11, 57 points, 6th in SUDM); Predators (24-23-8, 56 points, 6th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Nashville only put 15 on net, Martin Brodeur got the shutout and the Devils won 5-0 Nov. 10.

Last 10: New Jersey 5-3-2; Nashville 5-3-2

Historical Context: Oh the best laid plans. Explorer 1 was supposed to rotate along its long axis, but once it settled in orbit, it started spinning the other way. Nashville was supposed to have Pekka Rinne this season. Shea Weber isn’t supposed to get injured. The Predators are supposed to win low-scoring games, but it seems they do better when things get a little run-and-gun. Scientists learned a lot about space physics when Explorer started going the wrong-way-’round. Maybe Nashville has things to learn, too.

Canucks at Jets, 7:30 PM

Records: Canucks (27-19-9, 63 points, 4th in Pacific); Jets (25-25-5, 55 points, 7th in Conference III)

Last Time They Met: Chris Tanev scored in the third to give Vancouver a 2-1 win December 22.

Last 10: Vancouver 4-6-0; Winnipeg 6-4-0

Historical Context: James Van Allen was one of the key scientists with instrumentation on Explorer. It was shock when his observations showed the satellite occasionally pounded by cosmic rays and occasionally had none. From this, he discovered that the rays were being trapped by the belts of magnetic energy that crisscross the earth and that now bear his name. You never know what you’re going to get when you bring in someone new. The Jets under Paul Maurice are learning how to win again.