New Years Day has become a day where football fans salivate at the schedule of games they get to watch. Seventh ranked Georgia is playing #16 Nebraska at 1 pm in the Capital One Bowl, while at the same time #18 Michigan is playing #10 South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Then at 5 p.m the Badgers of Wisconsin take on the #8 Stanford Cardinal in the Rose Bowl. It doesn’t get better than the Rose Bowl, that’s for sure. To finish off the night #12 Florida State plays the Cinderella story of the BCS Northern Illinois Huskies.
What a day of football watching.
But if it were not for the NHL lockout, hockey fans would be getting ready to watch the Detroit Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 Winter Classic at the Big House in Michigan.
The Winter Classic has only been around since 2008, but it has already made itself a staple in the New Years Days sports lineup.
Every game has been a “classic”, including last years game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and the New York Rangers. The Rangers erased a 2-0 deficit in the second period, and led the game 3-2 late in the third. With 19 seconds left the Flyers were awarded a penalty shot that was taken by Danny Briere. Lundqvist stopped Briere’s shot and the Rangers won 3-2.
With no Winter Classic being played in Michigan this year, hockey fans are deprived of one of the greatest hockey events of the season.
I took the liberty of firing up the X-Box 360 and tossing in my copy of NHL 13. I set up the Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. To be clear, I did not participate in the game, I simply sat back and watched.
The Detroit Red Wings were the favorites to win the game. They had the better team, and they were playing in Michigan.
The Red Wings and Leafs got off to a slow start in this years classic. It was a neutral zone battle and not much offensive play until the second half of the period.
With less than seven minutes to play in the first, Henrik Zetterberg buried a long rebound left by Leafs goalie James Reimer (11 saves) to give the Wings a 1-0 lead.
The Wings got off to a fast start in the second period when Johan Franzen rifled a shot over the right shoulder of Reimer less than a minute into the second period.
The Red Wings had all the momentum on their side and looked like they were going to run away with the game.
Not so fast.
One minute after Franzen scored, Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk took the puck from behind the Detroit net, and shoved it past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (14 saves), and the puck trickled over the line to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Maple Leafs began to control the game, and began playing more in the Red Wings end then their own.
With less than nine minutes to play in the second, van Riemsdyk scored his second of the game when he took the puck off of the half boards, drove to the net, and buried over the shoulder of Howard.
One minute later, Dan Cleary was called for slashing, and Toronto went on the power play.
On the power play, Phil Kessel found himself open in the slot and ripped one on net only to be robbed by the glove of Jimmy Howard, and the game remained tied at 2.
With 30 seconds left on the power play, van Riemsdyk delivered his third goal of the period when he beat Howard high on the stick side, again.
Toronto took a 3-2 lead into the third period, and held Detroit to just three shots on goal in the second period.
Phil Kessel put the Leafs in front by two goals when he blasted a shot from a sharp angle that beat Howard on the short side.
The Red Wings responded quickly, scoring one minute later. Kyle Quincy took a pass from Zetterberg at the point, and beat Reimer low on the stick side, and the Red Wings cut the Leafs lead to 4-3.
The Red Wings could not get any more offense going the rest of the period. With less than two minutes to go in the game, the Maple Leafs controlled the puck and did not allow Detroit to gain the offensive zone cleanly.
Detroit pulled their goalie with less than a minute, but the Maple Leafs D was too much. Clarke MacArthur added an empty net goal with seven seconds left and the Leafs went on to a 5-3 victory.
The Winter Classic has belonged to the road team. Since 2008 the road team has won five of the six Winter Classics, with the Boston Bruins being the only home team to win in 2010. The Bruins beat the Flyers 2-1 in overtime.
2013 Winter Classic Three Stars
1. James van Riemsdyk- 3 G
2. Henrik Zetterberg- 1 G, 1 A
3. Phil Kessel- 1 G (Game Winner)
Box Score 1 2 3 F
Toronto 0 3 2 5
Detroit 2 0 1 3
13:34- (Det) Zetterberg (Samuelsson, Ericsson)
0:47- (Det) Franzen (White, Kronwall)
1:57- (Tor) van Riemsdyk (Unassisted)
11:50- (Tor) van Riemsdyk (2) (Unassisted)
14:19- (Tor) van Riemsdyk (3) PP (Grabovski, Phaneuf)
2:15- (Tor) Kessel (Bozak, Gunnarsson)
3:24- (Det) Quincey (Zetterberg, Filppula)
19:53- (Tor) MacArthur EN (Lupul, Grabovski)
This was the NHL 13 Simulation of the 2013 Winter Classic that would have been played today. These two teams will get the opportunity to play their Winter Classic next year in 2014 in Michigan.
Happy New Year!