Tag:Detroit Red Wings
Posted on: February 12, 2012 10:10 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 5:41 am
 

Wings tie home streak record with an asterisk

Of Detroit's 20 straight home wins, three came in the shootout. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Detroit Red Wings just did something we haven't seen in NHL history but twice before and not since the 1975-76 season. They won their 20th consecutive home game with a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ironically enough, the 20-game streak ties the Flyers for longest all time. The Boston Bruins are also the co-record holders from way back in 1929-30. That's a long time that this record has stood.

Not to be the party pooper -- OK, I am sort of playing that role -- but this deserves an asterisk. Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing feat, especially in today's NHL. There is a reason why the Wings are only the third team to win 20 consecutive home games and that's the all-time record. It's damn tough.

But the Red Wings had a benefit the other two teams didn't. They have the shootout to help them settle ties. In the pre-shootout era, this streak would be described as a 20-game unbeaten streak. Again, that's exceptional and very noteworthy. It's just not the same.

Three times in this 20-game run the Wings have won the game via the skills contest, as people like to call it.

This is in a way akin to Roger Maris surpassing Babe Ruth's record with 61 home runs in 1961. He had the benefit of playing eight extra games after MLB expanded the season length. Maris was still honored as the record holder for years, but there was always that little asterisk, particularly among the old-time fans.

The way I see it, the only way the asterisk is muted if they push this streak out a lot longer. Then it becomes so impressive you sort of forget about those little shootout wins. They have a chance to set a new record when they go for No. 21 against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

But again I don't want to take away completely from what they accomplished. It put a cap on one hell of a week for Hockeytown. Detroit was announced as the host for the next Winter Classic. Tomas Holmstrom celebrated his 1,000th career game and Nicklas Lidstrom set an NHL record of his own, playing more games with one team for a player who only had one team in his career. A bit convoluted, but still impressive.

In today's balanced and parity-laden NHL, thanks largely to free agency, that makes it perhaps more impressive than the others. Plus the Bruins benefitted from an era of full overtime. The Flyers won all of theirs in regulation considering there was no overtime then, but didn't have as tough of a league to play against.

It goes all ways, pros and cons for each era. That's what makes it so hard to compare, and why I don't want to sell what the Wings have done short. My whole point here is that what the Flyers in particular did was amazing, 20 consecutive home wins all coming in regulation.

Asterisk on the record or not, the Red Wings are virtually impossible to beat at home. That's why the race for the President's Trophy will be absolutely huge this season. With the way they play on home ice you have to think they might be favorites with home ice throughout.

I know not everybody is going to agree on this, so what's your take: Should the Wings' record have an asterisk because of the shootout?

More on the Wings

Recap: Red Wings 4, Flyers 3
Lidstrom sets record of his own
St. Louis almost as dominant at home

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: February 11, 2012 1:42 pm
 

St. Louis and Detroit's home-ice domination

HomeIceWesternConferenceBy: Adam Gretz

Sitting on top of the NHL standings with 76 points, the Detroit Red Wings are in a rather familiar position as one of the top contenders to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Always a dangerous team come playoff time, the Red Wings domination on home ice this season has to make them one of the scariest teams to match up with in the postseason if they can secure the No. 1 seed and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

After Friday's 2-1 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Wings pushed their home record on the season to 22-2-1, a mark that only one other team in the league can come close to matching -- their central division rivals, the St. Louis Blues, who currently own a 22-3-4 record on home ice.  

As of Saturday afternoon, only five points separate the two teams in the standings while St. Louis still has three games in hand. Seeing as how the two teams are nearly unbeatable on their home rinks but are .500 teams on the road (between them the two teams are 44-5-5 at home, but just 25-26-4 on the road) wrapping up the top spot in the division, as well as what could be the top spot in the conference, has to be a top priority for both clubs.

Given the upcoming schedules, you have to like the Red Wings chances. Detroit is currently riding a 19-game winning streak at Joe Louis Arena, the second longest run in NHL history, trailing only the 20 game runs that the 1975-76 Flyers and 1929-30 Boston Bruins achieved (oddly enough, the Red Wings next home game is on Sunday night against the Flyers).

The incredible thing about Detroit's winning streak at home isn't just the number of wins, it's also that a lot of these games haven't even been that competitive. Of the 19 wins 10 of them have been by a margin of three goals or more, and overall they've outscored their opponents by an 80-27 margin.

They're not just beating teams at home, they're crushing them, and they're in the middle of a stretch that has them playing nine of their next 12 games at home.

The Blues? Eight of their next 12 are on the road.

Unless either team does something to reverse the script that's been written through the first half of this season, this looks like a pretty big opporunity for Detroit to open up quite a lead in the Central Division race.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:49 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 12:34 am
 

George Parros scores first goal since 2010

By: Adam Gretz

It didn't get quite as much attention as the goal-scoring drought that Montreal's Scott Gomez was riding, going a full calendar year without scoring, but Anaheim's George Parros entered Friday's game in Detroit without a goal since December 1 ... of 2010. Because Parros isn't one of the highest paid players in the league and playing in the hockey madhouse that is Montreal, his run of 84 regular season games (89 games if you include the playoffs) without a goal kind of slipped under the radar.

Also because he's known more for using his fists (and for having what is perhaps the best mustache in the league) than he is for scoring goals.

Still, that's a long time between goals and on Friday during Anaheim's 2-1 shootout loss to the Red Wings (a game that saw the Red Wings extend their home winning streak to 19 games) Parros finally found the back of the net, using his skate to re-direct a pass from Rod Pelley past Joey MacDonald. The play had to be reviewed to confirm that it wasn't a kicking motion (and it wasn't).



The role Parros plays for the Ducks is pretty easy to see when looking at his career numbers, and since his last goal he only played about six or seven minutes per night and had been involved in over 15 fights, racking up 170 penalty minutes while recording just 26 shots on goal.

His goal on Friday was the 17th of his career.

Also at Eye On Hockey

Gomez finally ends his goal drought
Gomez: by the numbers

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Jets look to carry 'mo' to Pitt

Winnipeg is only three points behind Florida and Washington in the Southeast. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

WASHINGTON -- Here we are in mid-February and the Winnipeg Jets are still lingering right there in the playoff picture, just outside the East's top eight (even closer to the Southeast Division lead). That's how crucial Thursday night's Houdini act was in Washington, to take two points from a game that was seemingly lost.

The next question becomes how they can follow that up?

Winnipeg finishes off a travel-heavy stretch this Saturday in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. It will be their eight road game in their last nine overall, a crucial stretch in their season that many thought would bury their playoff hopes. I admit, myself included.

Instead, they were given a golden opportunity with a lucky bounce to pick up some serious steam for a playoff push.

"We have a big game in Pittsburgh," forward Bryan Little said on Thursday after the 3-2 win in D.C. "If we get a couple points there it would be a great road trip for us."

And it would bring them some strong momentum into a home-heavy stretch they are about to hit.

"We've been playing well at home all season, so we'd be really pumped with that," Little said.

That's why the game against the Pens is so big. It would more or less signify that the win in Washington was a springboard to launch them into their homestand. But any sort of momentum gained from it is for the most part lost with a flat showing in the 'Burgh.

"We've won two in a row now," said Evander Kane, who has played two games since returning from a concussion. "We have to be able to put together strings together and long winning streaks because that's how you're going to make the playoffs."

That's the goal, obviously, bring the playoffs back to the 'Peg. Maybe the White out too. So what better way to head into a stretch where nine of their next 10 are at the friendly confines of MTS Centre than a win in Pittsburgh?

They'll be taking on a Penguins team that will get a lift courtesy of a returning player. No, not Sidney Crosby, but instead Jordan Staal. Coach Dan Bylsma announced on Friday that Staal will be back in the lineup after dealing with a nagging knee issue.

So it's up to you Jets, make that win in Washington really count.

What the Devil has gotten into them?

The New Jersey Devils aren't just hanging around in the playoff race like the Jets, they are climbing into the conversation for home-ice advantage in the first round.

In a rarity, the Devils actually lost in a shootout on Thursday night to the St. Louis Blues. It brought an end to New Jersey's five-game winning streak but extended their points streak to eight games.

The catalyst in the run has been not only the stellar play of Ilya Kovalchuk, but Zach Parise's outburst. With his name being talked about as a possibility in trade discussions, Parise has only shown why teams would love to have him -- including the Devils, of course. In the last six games he has six goals and two assists. Not too shabby.

In case you haven't checked the standings in a while -- here's our nifty Playoff Race -- the Devils have jumped over the Penguins for the time being in the Atlantic Division race and are just three points behind the Flyers.

You have to like the odds of their points streak being extended to nine on Saturday. That's when they'll play the Florida Panthers at the Rock, the fourth and final meeting between coach Peter DeBoer and his former team from Florida. Seeing how the Devils have looked strong in winning two of the three from the Cats and would have taken the other if not for a complete meltdown in the third period, it doesn't seem like this is the time they will be stopped in their tracks.

Add in Florida being 1-6-4 in its last 11 road games and, well, you can see where this is going.

Chicago blues

It's high time the Blackhawks find themselves again. They are mired in a stretch that could be too difficult to overcome when it comes time for seeding in the Western Conference, especially if it continues.

In the midst of a nine-game road trip that still has five more stops to go, the Blackhawks are reeling. They've lost six in a row, picking up a point in only one of those losses. You wouldn't figure the next four games being in San Jose, at Phoenix, in Nashville then at the Rangers will make it much easier, particularly with the Sharks and Coyotes coming back-to-back this weekend.

It seems preposterous, but a couple more games and all of a sudden the Blackhawks are going to find themselves in a serious fight for a playoff spot period, let alone the seeding.

As big as the one Friday night in San Jose is, that game in Phoenix will be particularly big as the Coyotes have made a little surge in recent days and have climbed into the eighth spot in the West. It could pull Phoenix to within three points of Chicago if their skid continues.

Fifth time's the charm?

The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will have their fifth of six meetings this season on Saturday in Philly, a little matinee.

Despite it being their fifth game of the series, it's actually the first that will be played at Wells Fargo Center. So maybe that will be what the Flyers need to get off the Rangers schneid. They have been on the losing end of all four games so far.

There likely won't be any Ilya Bryzgalov in net again, though. And that's not because he's being benched, enjoying some nice tea in his thermos. Instead, he's enjoying some tea in his thermos because he's ill and, you know, people suggest you drink tea.

Obviously it hasn't mattered who has been in net for the Flyers this season, they haven't been able to figure out the Rangers yet. A game like Saturday's is huge for confidence, if not the standings.

Oh, and if you like fights, this might be your game. Last weekend's matchup broke out into an MMA show.

Mr. 1,000

It feels like we've had a lot of players hitting the 1,000 game milestone this season, doesn't it? On Thursday night Chris Neil of Ottawa celebrated entering four-digit territory. On Friday night it will be Tomas Holmstrom's turn.

The longtime Swedish Red Wings forward has obviously seen some good times in Detroit throughout his career. That tends to happen if you stay in a Wings uniform long enough. He'll be honored for that when the Ducks visit the Joe.

On the ice, this is actually quite the matchup. The Wings are still riding this ridiculous home winning streak, up to 18 games now. The Ducks, meanwhile, have come flying up from the basement and are now within eight points of a playoff spot in the West, still a long way to go but better than before. They are 11-2-2 in the last 15.

So don't be surprised if this is the team that's finally able to upset Detroit in Detroit and spoil the fun of Holmstrom's night.

We're going streaking!

Here is a look at the streaks -- both good and bad -- heading into the weekend.

Montreal Canadiens: Yes, that's right, the Habs are on a winning streak. They take a three-game run to their rivals in Toronto.

Vancouver Canucks: Remember when they were behind Minnesota in the Northwest? Me neither. They have a 15-point lead and carry a three-game win streak into Calgary on Saturday.

Coyotes: I said they've been on a run lately and that means they have a league-high four straight wins. Only Chicago awaits this weekend.

Blackhawks: See entry above: Six straight losses. Will they keep counting? Trips to San Jose and Phoenix on the docket.

Minnesota Wild: They have slipped out of the top eight in the West now having lost three consecutive games. A visit from Columbus is next on Saturday.

Ryan Miller: OK, I never put players on here, but Miller deserves a spot. The Sabres goalie has been much-maligned but he has turned a corner of late. He's on the run of his career. No, really. From Mike Harrington at the Buffalo News.

"Ryan Miller's 0.95 GAA and .969 save percentage over the last five games are the best in his career for any five-game stretch."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 3:08 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 3:12 pm
 

Winter Classic Alumni Game possibilities

By Brian Stubits

Part of the fun -- and there are a lot of parts to it -- of the Winter Classic is the Alumni Game. There's nothing like seeing some of the best and most iconic players lacing up the skates again in their old, familiar sweaters.

The next rendition will pit some old Norris Division rivals in the Red Wings and Maple Leafs from Detroit's Comerica Park. It's the revival of an old hatefest, one of the great Original Six rivalries the game has.

Quite frankly, the Alumni Game doesn't seem to be all that fair to the Leafs. The Wings have the last 20 years worth of playoff rosters to pick from of guys who are still in good health and shape while the Leafs? Well let's just say they have hit hard times.

But nobody really cares about the competitive nature of the game -- except maybe for the guys on the ice. It's more about the nostalgia, the fun of honoring some past greats on the ice again.

With that said, here is a look at some potential players for the Alumni Game rosters, the Maple Leafs presented by Adam Gretz and myself bringing the Red Wings.

(Just spitballing here and this is in no way a comprehensive list.)

Toronto Maple Leafs

Goalie: Not one of the strongest positions in recent years, but there are certainly some options. It could probably come down to either "the cat," Felix Potvin, Toronto's starter between 1992 and 1998, or perhaps Curtis Joseph (also a Red Wing for a brief period in the early 2000s) who had some of his best days with the Leafs in the late 90s. One of the newest members of the Hall of Fame, Ed Belfour, spent some time with the Maple Leafs as well, so he could be a possibility to work his way into the game if he's interested.

Defensemen: The trouble with trying to project an entire roster for this game a year in advance is that it's not always made up of players that you would normally expect, or players that spent a great deal of time with the organization or had a ton of success. Example: Dan Rosen of NHL.com passed along the word on Twitter that Brian Leetch would play in the game if asked by the Maple Leafs. Leetch, of course, only spent 15 games in Toronto at the end of the 2003-04 season. Borje Salming seems like a pretty easy choice as he was one of the best players to wear a Leafs uniform over the past 30 years, one of the best offensive defensemen of his era and a hockey Hall of Famer. For purely selfish reasons I'd like to see Al Iafrate suit up just to see how hard he can still shoot a puck.

Forwards: The first three names here should be pretty easy to pick: Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark, a nice mix of skill, grit and as Brian Burke likes to call it, "truculence."

Other players to consider: Alexander Mogilny, Tie Domi, Gary Roberts, Steve Thomas, Dave Andreychuk.

Detroit Red Wings

Goalie: Chris Osgood. That pick is too easy. He just retired, hanging up the skates after last season. He spent 14 of his 17 NHL seasons playing for the Wings, which included three Stanley Cups. Hard to imagine Ozzy won't be there.

Defensemen: This is assuming Nicklas Lidstrom will still be active with the Red Wings, otherwise he would be in this spot. So I'm going to go with Chris Chelios for one and let's say Mark Howe for another, even if he only played three seasons in Detroit. Larry Murphy could be another. There's a long enough list of guys who spent some quality time in Detroit to fill out a corps.

Forwards: Here's where it gets fun. Brendan Shanahan will be in town any way, might as well skate up for the event. Apparently he's eyeing it too, and will try to get Steve Yzerman to join him. Can't imagine Stevie Y won't show. The best of all, though, is that Gordie Howe could make an appearance for a shift. The list of guys up here goes on and on.

Others to consider:

Kris Draper, Sergei Fedorov, Darren McCarty (needs to happen), Colin Campbell (Shanny and Campbell? Too good to pass up), Alex Delvecchio, Kirk Maltby, Brian Rafalski.

Others who passed through like Brett Hull could also have spots. So many to choose from.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:30 am
 

Ranking the Winter Classic venues

By Brian Stubits

The next edition of the Winter Classic will be held at one of college football's most iconic sites, the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich. It's the first time the Classic will be held on a college campus. Previously, three have been held at baseball stadiums and two at NFL stadiums (but to be fair, a college team is a tenant at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field).

The annual outdoor game has seen some of the best sites to host a game in just a short existence. Here's this author's humble ranking of the venues the NHL has picked so far.

Heinz had a prime time look. (Getty Images)

6. Heinz Field, Pittsburgh (2011)

The weather was uncooperative as it was rainy and mild. While it did add a neat effect, the game had to be delayed to the night time as well.

But Heinz Field just doesn't have a whole lot going for it on the appearance side. It's just another nice football stadium, really. Not much to create a setting.

I would have loved to see the game at the Pirates' PNC Park, with downtown Pittsburgh just across the river in the background including the Roberto Clemente Bridge. That is one of if not the best view in baseball from a stadium.

Citizen's Bank Park was rocking in Philly. (Getty Images)

5. Citizen's Bank Park, Philadelphia (2012)

Some lamented that Citizen's Bank was just another cookie-cutter baseball stadium for the game, it doesn't have a ton that makes it unique or characteristic. It doesn't have a true flavor.

Still, after delaying the game a couple of hours the weather played along. There was even snow. Although it only came during an intermission, it was a great site to see.

The stadium does have a little visual appeal going for it in that downtown Philly is beyond the centerfield wall, but it's so far away it doesn't feel like you can reach out and touch it like you could in, say, PNC Park.

Buffalo put on the inaugural American outdoor show. (Getty Images)

4. Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo (2008)

The best thing the Bills' stadium had going for it was the snow globe effect. The wind was whipping and the flurries falling, making for a pretty awesome site.

But much like Heinz, there isn't a whole lot that is visually appealing about the stadium itself. It gets a little extra credit for being the first stadium and in a truly cold city like Buffalo.

I think if it weren't the first game and not snowing the way it was, it would be the most forgettable.

The Big House will have a record crowd. (Getty Images)

3. Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor (2013)

Maybe it's just because I like college football too, but the Big House makes for a pretty great setting.

There isn't anything you can see from the stadium. It's just a massive bowl that is completely enclosed. But I expect the pageantry of college football and the stadium itself will come out. The college campus just adds a cool element to me.

With that said, I can't imagine it will be good for the fans at the game. The seats go up slowly in the bowl, they aren't steep. I can't imagine there will be many good seats for seeing the action.

The Green Monster had a monster presence. (Getty Images)

2. Fenway Park, Boston (2010)

The Green Monster? The Pesky Pole? A relatively small and history-laden stadium? Those are all some great ingredients.

Plus, you know, they got to blast Neil Diamond and sing along. I don't ever really see how that can be a problem.

Boston was a good host and Fenway is a great stadium to take in a game, of any sport. You could just see Carlton Fisk still willing that ball fair while the players sported the eye black. I just loved the shots like the one above with the Monster in the background.

Wrigley's charm was impossible to escape. (Getty Images)

1. Wrigley Field, Chicago (2009)

Was there any doubt? This was as good as it will probably ever get, I think. What can really top it?

Wrigley is as classic as the game of baseball. The ivy on the outfield walls the signature sign, but the rooftop bleachers and city of Chicago in the distance? Just a perfect setting.

While it's cheating a little, the jerseys they were wearing added to the appeal of the game for me. They were by far the best sweaters to appear in a Winter Classic so far.

The stadium on the North Side of Chicago had everything to make for a great Classic.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 10:39 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 3:26 pm
 

NHL announces Winter Classic to be at Big House

By Brian Stubits

The NHL made it all officially official on Thursday in Detroit. The Winter Classic will be held at the Big House in Ann Arbor against the Maple Leafs and Red Wings next New Year's Day.

"It's Hockeytown against the center of the hockey universe" Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke joked at the news conference.

It had been in the works for a while. The talk of the press box at the Winter Classic in Philly just over a month ago was that Detroit was going to be hosting the game. Since then everything has come into focus and the NHL just clarified (and confirmed) it all.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said that there will be about 115,000 tickets available for the game, and assuming they sell them all (they will) it will break the record for a hockey audience, also achieved at Michigan Stadium when University of Michigan played Michigan State.

"I'm all pshyced, I want to get my skates!" Red Wings owner Mike Illitch said. "But I can't skate."

In addition to the big game, downtown Detroit will be hosting events all week with the Hockeytown Winter Festival including the Alumni Game at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. The rink in Detroit will be very busy as college and OHL games will also be held there.

In making the announcement, Bettman estimated that the events in Detroit itself will bring 150,000-200,000 fans to the city for all the events.

It will prove to be the busiest Winter Classic held to date, hands down. Not only will there be significantly more action on the rinks, but there will be two rinks at two stadiums. That will be a lot of work. But the good news is that nothing should affect the ice for the NHL game as Ann Arbor will only host the main event.

Personally, I think it's a fantastic idea, even if it will make life a little tough on the behind-the-scenes people and those covering the events, shuffling back and forth between the cities.

Hockeytown hosting the best week of outdoor hockey? Yes, please!

More from Eye on Hockey

Ranking the Winter Classic venues
Alumni Game possibilities

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:13 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 12:39 pm
 

NHL to announce Classic at Big House on Thurs.

The Big House has hosted the biggest hockey attendance ever already. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The NHL will make a major announcement on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at Detroit's Comerica Park. It will then make a second announcement at 1:15 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

Because we are really good with the power of deduction, we have a pretty good guess as to what this is all about. Probably something along the lines a Winter Classic at the Big House.

Petty sarcasm aside, there's no doubt now that the league is going to make next year's Winter Classic official, pitting the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the campus of the University of Michigan.

The school's Board of Regents signed off on the deal this week to allow the NHL to move in for a little while. Here's more from ESPN.com.

The NHL is offering to pay $3 million to the university for the licensing of the stadium, and the university would give the NHL use of Michigan Stadium from Dec. 1, 2012 until mid-January 2013 -- including time for all potential set-up and breakdown scenarios.

The dual announcement is being done because it has been previously reported that to help bring the festivities to Detroit and appease Wings owner Mike Illitch, Comerica Park, home to the MLB's Tigers, will also host some of the events.

Specifically, the second rink in Detroit will host the majority of the action accroding to the Macomb Daily.

Comerica Park will host an American Hockey League game between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Toronto Marlies, the minor league affiliates of the Wings and Leafs.

It will also be the site of the Great Lakes Invitational, along with two Ontario Hockey League games and numerous high school and youth games.

Michigan and Michigan State will be two of the GLI teams. Three OHL teams – the Plymouth Whalers, Saginaw Spirit and Windsor Spitfires – have already been confirmed.

Comerica could also host the alumni game between the Wings and Leafs.

Hockey at the Big House has been done before. Michigan played intrastate rival Michigan State a few years back and drew over 100,000 for the game. A similar crowd can no doubt be expected with the Leafs and Wings bringing their Original Six flavor and their big fan bases to campus.

It's also the first time that a Canadian team is getting in on the Winter Classic action, a move that did come as a little surprise when it was first mentioned. The game has become a showcase for hockey in the States, Canada obviously needs no help in promoting the game. It's NBC's biggest hockey telecast of the season by far and ratings are important.

The fear is that a Canadian team won't bring the same ratings, but the Leafs have a lot of fans scattered across America. Same goes for the Wings. I don't think it will be as big of an issue as people think. The spectacle of the Winter Classic is enough to bring in fans of any team to begin with.

The announcement certainly comes a lot earlier than the last one. The NHL didn't make the last game in Philadelphia official until September. It is being a little more proactive this time.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com