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Wings, Leafs Clash in Winter Classic


The Big House becomes the Big Pond on New Year’s Day as the Detroit Red Wings face the Toronto Maple Leafs in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Ordinarily home to the University of Michigan’s Wolverines football team, the 110,000-plus capacity Michigan Stadium will be converted to host the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, a game that is expected to top all previous attendance records for a hockey game.

Faceoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.

The Original Six showdown in Ann Arbor was initially scheduled for January 1, 2013, but became a casualty of the player lockout. Rather than nix the game completely, NHL brass postponed the game until this season.

That postponement has added a little extra flavor to the game.

After the league opted for realignment ahead of this season, Detroit and Toronto now find themselves in the same division. Furthermore, the two Atlantic Division sides currently sit neck-and-neck with 45 points, good enough for sixth and seventh in the Eastern Conference, so not only will the game prove to be a spectacle, it will also mean something.

Phil Kessel and Henrik Zetterberg will look to lead their respective team to victory.

Phil Kessel and Henrik Zetterberg will look to lead their respective team to victory.

Detroit (18-14-9, 45pts) will make its second appearance in the Winter Classic, following a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2009 event at Wrigley Park. The 6-4 final remains the highest-scoring game since the Classic was introduced in 2008.

After beginning the season 14-7-7, the Wings have struggled of late, putting together a 4-7-2 record over the last 13 games. On Monday, Mike Babcot’s side found itself down 3-1 to the Nashville Predators at the end of the second period. A frenetic third stanza saw the sides share six goals, but the Wings ultimately came up short, losing the game 6-4.

Goaltender Jimmy Howard returned to the fray having been kept out of the lineup since December 11 thanks to a knee sprain. He’ll need to rediscover his form if the Wings are to have success going forward.

Pavel Datsyuk scored his 15th goal of the season in the third period furor. He continues to lead the team in scoring. Meanwhile, Henrik Zetterberg tallied a pair of assists to take his team-leading point total to 33, one-point ahead of Datsyuk.

Detroit will look to become only the second home side to record a win in the Winter Classic. In the five previous outings, only the Boston Bruins, who defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in a shootout at Fenway Park back in 2010, have so far been successful on ‘home’ turf.

Toronto (20-16-5, 45pts) will take its Winter Classic bow, becoming the first Canadian side to play in the event. The decision to include the Leafs in the game will surely prove to be a boost for the league as it looks to increase the popularity of the event north of the border.

The Maple Leafs handed the Carolina Hurricanes a 5-2 loss on Sunday, ending a string of four straight games involving a shootout. The Leafs were 2-0-2 in those games.

Phil Kessel scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season against the Hurricanes in a game that marked the halfway point of the season for Randy Carlyle’s team. He leads the team in goals and points scored (37).

Detroit and Toronto have met once already this season. On December 21, the Wings edged the Leafs in a shootout to win 5-4 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Datsyuk scored during the game before joining Daniel Alfredsson on the scorers list in the shootout. Alfredsson will be a game time decision.

While snow has been in the forecast recently, it looks as though the Wings and Leafs will be playing under cloud.

You can get all of the odds and trends relating to Wednesday’s Winter Classic game at the link below.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings odds for 01/01/2014

Michigan Stadium currently holds the attendance record for a hockey game.

On December 11, 2010, Michigan defeated Michigan State 5-0 in ‘The Big Chill at the Big House’. It was announced that 113,411 people attended the game although the certified figure was later deemed to be 104,173. The NHL hopes to break that mark on Wednesday.

The 2014 Winter Classic marks the first of six NHL games to be held in outdoor venues this season. The full list of fixtures is as follows:

January 1, 2014: NHL Winter Classic: Toronto Maple Leafs at Detroit Red Wings (Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI)

January 25, 2014: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings (Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)

January 26, 2014: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils (Yankee Stadium, New York, NY)

January 29, 2014: New York Rangers at New York Islanders (Yankee Stadium, New York, NY)

March 1, 2014: Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)

March 2, 2014: NHL Heritage Classic: Ottawa Senators at Vancouver Canucks (BC Place, Vancouver, BC)


For a full list of today’s NHL odds, click here.

For updated NHL futures odds, click here.

For a selection of NHL team prop bets, click here.

For a selection of NHL player prop bets, click here.

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