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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, January 1st (All times Eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (20-16-5) at Detroit Red Wings (18-14-9), 1 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Original Six members as well as division rivals both past and present, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings have met 645 times during the regular season.

The 646th matchup will be one to remember.

The Red Wings play host to the Maple Leafs on Wednesday afternoon in the 2014 edition of the Winter Classic that is set to take place at Michigan Stadium.

The two franchises have been waiting to engage in the NHL's sixth Winter Classic, having been set to meet on New Year's Day in 2013 only to have the game wiped out due to the lockout.

They now meet as division rivals, with the Red Wings having shifted from the Western Conference to the East in the new-look Atlantic Division following realignment. The two clubs are tied for fourth place in the standings with 45 points, five back of Tampa Bay and Montreal.

That makes today's matchup an important one in the grand scheme of the season and not just for the novelty of playing outdoors.

"We all understand it's a great event and a great showcase for the league," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "It's our responsibility to participate.

"To tell you the truth, as I said lots of times, it wasn't high on our list because we have lots of things going on. With it comes a lot of distractions. But, again, the most important thing to us is that we're going to go out and compete and give ourselves the best chance to win."

While the Maple Leafs will be making their Winter Classic debut, the Red Wings visited the Chicago Blackhawks and Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009 and secured a 6-4 victory in front of 40,818 fans. Detroit rallied after being down 3-1, with Jiri Hudler scoring two goals and Ty Conklin making 43 saves.

Detroit has a few holdovers from that game, including Pavel Datsyuk (1 goal) and Henrik Zetterberg (3 assists) as the duo helped the Red Wings score a single team-high six goals for a Winter Classic game.

Now Detroit takes its turn to host at Michigan Stadium, the largest college football stadium in the country that is known as "The Big House." The official capacity for a football game at Michigan Stadium tops 100,000 people.

"You don't remember everything in your life, but you remember moments. This should be one. But it's way more fun when you win. It's been like that since you were six," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.

The Red Wings and Leafs offered a preview of this matchup in Toronto on Dec. 21, with Detroit earning a 5-4 shootout victory. Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson both scored in the tiebreaker and Jonas Gustavsson was perfect in the shootout for the Red Wings.

Toronto overcame a 3-1 deficit and led by a goal before Detroit's Tomas Tatar netted the equalizer with 6:16 on the clock in the third period.

Jonathan Bernier made 25 saves for the Maple Leafs in relief of James Reimer, who was pulled after the first period having allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Despite the loss, the Leafs are still 4-1-1 in their past six meetings with the Red Wings but have lost five of their last seven as the visitor in this series.

Dion Phaneuf had a goal for the Maple Leafs versus the Red Wings and will play in his first game today since officially signing a seven-year contract extension on Tuesday. The new deal is worth a reported $49 million.

Phaneuf has four goals, 11 assists and a plus-13 rating in 39 games this season and has missed just 18 games since coming to Toronto via a trade with Calgary on Jan. 31, 2010.

"You grow up playing on outdoor rinks as a kid. And to be able to come here and, obviously, with this news (of the extension) being announced, to have my family here ... it's going to be a special game to be a part of. I'm really looking forward to stepping out there, not only (Tuesday) to practice but (Wednesday) when there are 110,000 people. It's going to be an experience I'll never forget as a player," said Phaneuf.

Toronto has a chance to win three straight for the first time since Oct. 26-30 today. The Maple Leafs split four games decided in a shootout from Dec. 19-27 before picking up a 5-2 win over Carolina on Sunday.

Phaneuf had a goal and Phil Kessel scored twice to reach 20 goals on the season. Center Tyler Bozak returned following a 12-game absence caused by an oblique injury and had three assists.

Bernier helped the Leafs to the victory despite the club getting outshot 43-27. He came away with 41 saves in his third straight start.

Bernier will draw the start today over Reimer and is 1-1-1 with a 3.13 goals against average in five career games versus the Red Wings, two of those starts.

He doesn't expect the outdoor conditions to impact his play too much.

"It's actually good," Bernier said of the ice conditions on Tuesday. "The only thing was probably the wind sometimes when it was blowing, especially most of the practice it was blowing in my face. It was pretty cold, but other than that, it felt good."

Detroit had won three of four before suffering a 6-4 setback to the Nashville Predators on Monday. The Red Wings fell to 3-6-2 in their last 11.

Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller all scored in the loss while goaltender Jimmy Howard showed some rust in his first game since Dec. 10. He yielded five goals on 28 shots faced in his return from a sprained left MCL.

"That's a tough thing for the goaltender. So the great thing about (Howard), he's a world-class goalie. He's always been good. He usually bounces back good," noted Babcock.

Howard is 0-1-0 with a 3.43 GAA in two career meetings with the Leafs.

Alfredsson was a late scratch with an upper-body injury and his status for the Winter Classic is unknown.

The New York Rangers defeated the Flyers 3-2 in the most recent Winter Classic on Jan. 2, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

01/01 10:24:59 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
2nd
CAR 3
CLE 3
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
3:30pm Today
TOR
NYK
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
LAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
 
1st
BGU 28
FERST 31
 
1st
ARMY 25
MAINE 18
 
Half
QUIN 32
ORST 26
 
1st
CLST 24
USF 30
 
1st
CARK 5
CCAR 5
 
2:00pm Today
UWGB
ARKLR
 
2:00pm Today
RAD
CORN
 
2:00pm Today
UNT
CREI
2:00pm Today
CAN
HC
 
2:00pm Today
USB
GHND
 
2:00pm Today
OKST
MD
2:00pm Today
WINT
REIN
 
2:00pm Today
UGST
SMISS
2:00pm Today
NEOM
TXPA
 
2:00pm Today
STLU
VERM
 
2:00pm Today
UNCA
WCU
 
2:05pm Today
EVAN
ALAST
 
2:30pm Today
HART
FIU
 
2:35pm Today
VALPO
GOSHEN
 
3:00pm Today
LIP
PEAY
 
3:00pm Today
DEN
BRY
 
3:00pm Today
MONT
SD
 
3:00pm Today
MTST
TENST
3:00pm Today
SAMF
LAMON
 
3:30pm Today
SCAR
COKR
 
4:00pm Today
HAMP
NARZ
 
4:00pm Today
SDU
SDCHR
 
4:00pm Today
BC
USC
4:30pm Today
NICST
TROY
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
1st
NOS 7
ATL 3
 
2nd
HOU 6
BAL 0
 
2nd
CAR 3
CLE 3
 
2nd
CHI 0
DET 7
 
2nd
TAM 0
GBP 7
 
2nd
PIT 3
KAN 3
 
2nd
MIA 0
MIN 14
 
2nd
NYJ 0
NEP 7
 
4:05pm Today
STL
NYG
4:25pm Today
OAK
BUF
4:25pm Today
DAL
IND
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA