The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are two of the oldest team in the NHL, and today these two historical franchises will meet in the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic.
According to a CBC report, today’s game will be played outdoors from BMO Field in Toronto and will be honoring the Maple Leafs’ 100th anniversary. What better way to honor 100 years than to play a rival Original Six team in front of over 50,000 fans? While this game is a celebration and milestone event for the Toronto franchise, the Red Wings will have a bit of revenge on their minds when they hit the ice Sunday afternoon.
Toronto edged Detroit in the 2014 Winter Classic 3-2 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Although tomorrow the official NHL Winter Classic will take place when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the St. Louis Blues, today’s game will mark the first time two NHL teams have met for the second time in an outdoor game.
The atmosphere for today’s NHL Centennial Classic will definitely be electric, however, both the Red Wings and Maple Leafs have not played up to expectations so far this season.
— NHL (@NHL) December 27, 2016
Through 35 games so far, Toronto has just 39 points, however, the Leafs come into today’s game riding a four-game winning streak and playing much better hockey than they were a month ago. It has been a slow process, but Toronto coach Mike Babcock has Toronto going in the right direction.
The former Red Wings coach knows how much hockey means to both of these cities and how fans live and die with their team each year. Babcock won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings during his time as head coach as he directed the Red Wings to their 11th Stanley Cup in franchise history and the Wings fourth since 1997. Now as the leader of Toronto, Babcock knows that the Leafs haven’t been relevant in decades – something he is determined to change.
“Winning is a fine line,” Babcock said. “I’m not sure there that’s much difference with what we were going through just before we started winning here and what we’ve done (recently).”
Babcock also knows how big today’s game is, even though he may be down playing it a bit. It is just another regular season game, but it is against his old team, it’s on national TV, and the Leafs are the host city.
“When it’s your own team, it’s a chance of a lifetime,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of his third outdoor game. “They’re all special in their own way. The most special thing about it is you get to share it with your alumni and your franchise and your fans but also with your family. That make it beyond special.”
While Babcock has the Leafs trending upwards, his former team is off to one of their worst starts in years.
The Red Wings have been dismal to say the least so far this season. While they have shown signs of how good the future may be, they have also struggled in many areas, especially on the power play.
Detroit is the No. 30 ranked team in scoring with the extra man. Yes, in other words they are the worst in the NHL. They also haven’t found solid line play defending the power play either.
For the first time in many season in Hockeytown, things are not running smoothly. The positive is Detroit has one of the youngest teams in the NHL and there is still a lot of season left to keep their 25-year playoff streak rolling.
Detroit has just 36 points in 36 games this season. They will have their hands full today vs. Toronto, but a win on the road could be what the Wings need to get back on track.
Las Vegas odds makers have Toronto listed as the favorite at -150, with the over/under goal total set at 5.5.
The start time for today’s NHL Centennial Classic between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. Hockey fans can watch all of the action nationally on NBC. The game will also be streaming live online through the NBC Sports Network.
[Featured Image by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images]