The NHL rang in 2019 with its annual Winter Classic, as the Boston Bruins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, in the outdoor showcase at Notre Dame Stadium on New Year's Day. Here are our takeaways from the 2019 Winter Classic, which proved to be a memorable event at the home of the Fighting Irish.
One of the best games in terms of quality of play
Sometimes the novelty of the Winter Classic wears off about halfway through the game and what you're left with is slow, sloppy, unexciting play. It's something we've seen several times and, honestly, it's understandable. It's tough to match the ice conditions of an indoor rink, especially when you're battling inclement weather and obstacles like glare.
However, this year's game provided an entertaining product all the way through. In fact, it may have been one of the best Winter Classics ever in terms of quality of play. There were very few, if any, issues with the rink, with players saying that the ice quality was very good. Weather was also very cooperative, as the temperature at puck drop was just around 35 degrees.
The score was close throughout, too. In fact, a good portion of the game was spent with both teams locked even on the scoreboard. The Blackhawks and Bruins traded goals in the first few periods and neither team led by more than a goal until the Bruins were able to ice the game with an empty-netter in the final minute.
There weren't many incredible highlights, but the game was a very entertaining and enjoyable one overall.
The anthem was incredible
The Blackhawks have one of the best anthem singers in the entire league with Jim Cornelison, so it was fair to expect that Tuesday's anthem would be a good one. However, the atmosphere Cornelison typically stirs up inside the United Center just simply paled in comparison to the one that circulated around the anthem in South Bend prior to puck drop.
The massive crowd of 76,126 (second-largest in Winter Classic history) was clearly excited during pregame festivities, and that energy could be felt even by those watching the game on TV at home. They roared throughout Cornelison's performance and it ended up being a truly memorable and spectacular kickoff to the event.
Amazing anthem from the Winter Classic in South Bend pic.twitter.com/QtMrIvySZk— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 1, 2019
The jerseys were outstanding
One of the neat parts of the Winter Classic every year is that both participating teams will wear specialty uniforms for the event, and this year featured a very, very good jersey matchup between two Original Six teams. Both sides went with throwback looks from the 1930s, with the Bruins wearing a modified throwback from that era and Chicago paying homage to the franchise's black and white look from 1934 (the year they won the Stanley Cup for the first time).
Both of the uniforms were unveiled prior to the Classic but full judgement always has to be reserved until you see them hit the ice, and neither look disappointed under the Indiana sky. Good fashion always helps add to the overall spectacle and aesthetic of the Winter Classic, and these teams did a good job representing themselves this year.
That being said, if we're handing out an advantage in that department, it goes to the Bruins.
Blackhawks stay winless in Classics
The Blackhawks have played in more Winter Classics than any other team, with Tuesday's game being their fourth. And their 4-2 loss to the Bruins means that they remain winless in the event.
Yes, Chicago is now 0-4 in Winter Classics and 1-5 overall in outdoor games. They've now lost at Wrigley Field, Nationals Park, TCF Bank Stadium, Busch Stadium and Notre Dame Stadium. Their lone win under the sky came in a Stadium Series game against the Penguins at Soldier Field in 2014.
Part of me wants to say we should stop making them play in the games since most of us are exhausted of seeing them (especially considering they're not very good anymore) and they clearly don't perform well outdoors. But part of me also wants to see just how many Winter Classics it will take before the Blackhawks actually win one.
For what it's worth, the Bruins are now 2-1 in Winter Classics.
Notre Dame Stadium wasn't prepared
While the game was great and the atmosphere was electric, the stadium operations seemed to be a bit of a disaster Tuesday. About halfway through the game, various attendees began reporting that stadium vendors were running out of food and alcohol at the event. Halfway through!
That's a pretty stunning failure for the host venue. Food and booze also helps when it comes to battling the temperatures at these types of outdoor events, so it's understandable that people were ticked off that the stadium was dealing with a shortage so early in the game.
Relive the 2019 Winter Classic by scrolling through our live blog of the game: