After being delayed a year because of last year’s lockout, I’d say the 2014 Winter Classic was well worth the extended wait.
The Leafs and Wings have been under tremendous scrutiny over the last month or so more than ever with Winter Classic preparation to deal with. That, of course, that meant both teams dealing with HBO cameras filiming the 24/7 series. We’ve gotten a unique look into both teams and seen players and coaches become the stars of the show.
Both teams have struggled (as clearly documented if you’ve been following the 24/7HBO documentary over the last few weeks), so maybe a chance to get outside and breathe in the crisp, fresh air will do them some good. The teams are tied for fourth in the Atlantic Division, and sit precariously in the two wild-card spots at the moment. They’ll be hoping to start the New Year on the right foot and make some ground on the third-place Montreal Canadiens, while still trying to keep the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators from nipping
More than 100,00 fans braved the snowy and frigid conditions to root on their teams. Mother Nature did her part in reminding people that today’s events were played outside. From the time the players stepped on the ice for warm ups until the time they all waved their sticks in the air showing their appreciation for the fans, a steady stream of powdered snow fell from the sky.
Multiple times throughout the game, play had to be halted so that the ice crew could attend to snow on the ice. Even with these stoppages, there was no complaining from either team. Both the Leafs and the Red Wings accepted the fact that they were part of something special and acted like true professionals playing through the elements.
As is tradition, along with the New Year comes the NHL Winter Classic. This season the match would be between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings.The first period of the game had no scoring, but did have some excellent play by Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier who kept the Wings off the board in the first. The first goal of the game would come in the latter half of the second period, with a Detroit 2-on-1 resulting in a goal from Daniel Alfredsson. The Leafs would answer this goal before the end of the period, putting up a tally of their own with a bat out of the air from James van Riemsdyk.
Early in the third period a Dion Phaneuf point shot would be tipped by Tyler Bozakto give the Leafs the lead. However, towards the end of the period, the Wings’ Justin Abdelkader was able to put one past Bernier to tie it up at two. Overtime would solve nothing, leading this game to a shootout. Bozak would end up putting the shootout winner past Jimmy Howard to lock up two points for the Blue and White.