This year’s winter classic was an eventful one for sure. It was a contest between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Now you have to remember this is still a regular season game. Coming into this game the both teams were tied for fourth spot in the Atlantic division. Before this game even begins there is a little bit of drama. The Leafs were working on a trade that would bring over Defence men Tim Gleason from Carolina in exchange for John Michael Liles and a prospect (who we found out later when the trade was finalized was Dennis Robertson.)
Imagine you’re Liles, you are warming up for the Winter Classic that most player don’t get a chance to even consider. Then just as you finish warming up you get told that you aren’t playing, you don’t even get to be in the stadium and be a healthy scratch. Liles was traded the day his team was playing the Winter Classic. Now was it for sure that Liles would be playing? No, he probably was going to be scratched again. But hey at least he can say that he warm up with a team that won the Winter Classic, right?
Now enough about the trade, let’s get more into the game. The snow was falling from above and everyone was ready in Ann Arbor for some hockey. The first period was sluggish, slow and to be honest a little amusing. Seeing these world class player fumble the puck and having trouble with simple things, like puck handling out of your own zone. The first period should’ve been the Red Wings’ period, they had so many scoring chances. If they somehow got one pass Jonathan Bernier who was amazing stopping 41 out of 43 shots in the game.
Then the game began to heat up in the second period. Daniel Alfredsson opened the scoring after scoring on a two on one from a great feed from Zetterberg. Knowing the conditions and how the puck acted like a basketball by bouncy all around the ice it was very impressive that he got that pass off. But in the second period it should’ve been Toronto’s period, no James van Riemsdyk’s period. He turned up the intensity and geot two amazing scoring opportunities. He was wide open at the side of the net with a yawning cage but he fumbled the puck. Then on another opportunity he was absolutely robbed by Howard in the slot, Howard had 24 saves by the way!
But finally in the last minutes of the period Van Riemsdyk got a beauty of a goal that tied it up at one. He batted it out of air up and over Jimmy Howard. It was a clean goal, so heading into the third its 1-1 and both teams now are getting chances. Bozak in the first five minutes of the final period deflects a Dion Phaneuf shot and it goes in. The visitors have the lead, but not so fast now. Justin Abdelkader then ties the game up with under ten minutes to play.
Overtime in the Winter Classic is something that is amazing to watch. Epically when you have the likes of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. The highlight of that overtime span was when Phil the Thrill Kessel comes into the zone with amazing speed and goes behind the net. He then see’s Cody Franson just waiting for a feed and passes it off. Franson then fires it and rings it off the post. The game should’ve been done but instead it’s headed to a shootout.
Remember the 2008 Winter Classic and it went to a shootout? Crosby won it for the Pens in the shootout. Then two years later in the Winter Olympics in overtime kind of the same thing happened. Miller wearing the American jersey while Crosby was rocking the Red and white. Anyways those are just some memories. Back to the game right now.
Everyone was a buzz, the faithful fans waited through the cold and were rewarded with one heck of a shootout. James van Riemsdyk goes first and was shut down by his team U.S.A teammate Jimmy Howard (the roster was released after the game. Then Alfredsson goes first for the Wings, the former Senator’s captain was stopped by Bernier. Then came Joffery Lupul, he scores the first goal of the shootout and stays flawless in the shootout this season. But then Pavel Datsyuk comes in a backhands it past Bernier.
So now this whole game is on Tyler Bozak’s stick. Only his second game back from injury and he was in the situation to perform for his team. So in front of all the fans that were weathering the cold and enjoying the spectacle that was the Winter Classic he takes off. He comes streaking in, he goes in forehand, backhand, forehand and then takes the shot. It goes past Jimmy Howard and the Toronto Maple Leafs win the 2014 Winter Classic. Also they pick up the extra point and are now ahead of the Red Wings in the Atlantic.