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Posted On Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 12:36 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Tailgaters go all out for Winter Classic

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan is used to hosting tailgaters for Wolverines football games every year, but the Michigan Stadium grounds usually lie dormant on New Year's Day. So it was quite a scene to see the area surrounding the stadium suddenly flooded with countless hockey fans who packed up the RV, set up the grill and, in some cases, started a spirited game of floor hockey.

Clearly, it was the day of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs were just hours away from facing off.

"We have the bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, we're going to do some nice burgers and we have lots of beer," said Windsor native Sarah Kilbourne, a Detroit Lions season ticket holder who is used to spending the day tailgating. "When we're doing the Lions, we change [the menu] week by week. This week we figured let's make it easy. We did burgers, hot dogs, keep it simple."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 7:52 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Red Wings linemates enjoy reunion at alumni game

DETROIT -- The Steve Yzerman-led Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup three times in six seasons. When numerous players from those championship teams participated in an alumni game doubleheader Tuesday at Comerica Park, it was a special opportunity to revisit those winning memories.

And on a team that was known for specific line combinations, it was a unique chance to recapture some of that old chemistry.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 4:18 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Berenson excited for Red Wings' Glendening

DETROIT -- When the Detroit Red Wings revealed Tuesday they had called up forward Luke Glendening one day before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, few people were more excited for the 24-year-old than his former coach at the University of Michigan, Red Berenson.

"Luke is a tremendous kid. They've brought him up and down and he's played 16 games for the Wings," Berenson said. "He's a role player, he knows his role. He's excited to be there. I'm excited for him."

After playing Monday at Comerica Park for the Grand Rapids Griffins in an American Hockey League game against the Toronto Marlies, Glendening is now poised to play in his second outdoor game in three days. It's an interesting turn for a player who played in three outdoor games as a Michigan Wolverine.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 4:09 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Older players impress at alumni game

DETROIT -- Most of the former members of the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs who participated in the first of two alumni games Tuesday at Comerica Park aren't that far removed from their glory days. A number of them, like Detroit's Mathieu Schneider and Aaron Ward or Toronto's David Reid and Cory Cross were still in the NHL just a few years ago and were in their 40s when they took the ice the day before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Those players only a few years removed from their time in the League were particularly impressed by the performances from the older players participating in the alumni game.

Doug Favell, 68, started in net for the Maple Leafs alumni and occasionally showed impressive flashes of quickness. In perhaps the game's most surreal moment, Detroit opened the scoring when Favell allowed a goal by defenseman Jiri Fischer, who retired prematurely due to a heart condition and is 35 years Favell's junior.

"That was awesome, seeing Doug out there with the pads," Maple Leafs goaltender Peter Ing said. "I thought someone would lob one at the net, but the first one was a heater. I felt for him."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 12:57 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Marquee names expected for alumni doubleheader

DETROIT -- With so many former Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings players looking to participate in the 2013 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown, preceding the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, fans will be treated to a rare doubleheader. Comerica Park will host back-to-back alumni games Tuesday, with each game featuring a variety of notable names from Red Wings and Maple Leafs history.

In the first game at 1:25 p.m., Detroit will be represented by a number of names from the recent past. Among them will be forwards Martin Lapointe, Pat Verbeek, Mike Sillinger and Petr Klima. The defense for the Red Wings will be bolstered by several Stanley Cup winners, including Steve Duchesne, Aaron Ward, Mathieu Schneider and Mathieu Dandenault. In a unique twist to the game, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who played three games with Detroit during the 1983-84 season, is expected to appear in net alongside Kevin Hodson and Eddie Mio.

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 5:47 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' Vigneault defends decision to start Talbot

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault stood by his decision to start rookie goaltender Cam Talbot for the second time in 24 hours instead of No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Talbot stopped 24 shots Sunday in a 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild and Vigneault decided to ride his hot hand.

"I felt Cam played a good game for us last night and just [made the decision to] go with him," Vigneault said before the Rangers' game Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.

In 11 appearances, Talbot is 7-2-0 with a .936 save percentage and a 1.67 goals-against average. The Rangers have also averaged 2.78 goals per game in Talbot's nine starts, compared to 2.15 in Lundqivst's 27 starts.

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 1:58 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Maple Leafs' D'Amigo guaranteed outdoor game

NEW YORK -- Recent American Hockey League call-up Jerry D'Amigo doesn't know how long he'll stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22-year-old wing has two points in 10 games since his arrival from the Toronto Marlies on Dec. 5 and is hoping to secure his spot on the roster.

But regardless of whether he is sent down following the end of the holiday roster freeze, he's guaranteed to have an eventful holiday. Not only will the Maple Leafs be playing against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1 in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, but the Marlies will face off against Detroit's AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, at Comerica Park in Detroit on Dec. 30.

"If I get sent down, either here or there I'm going to have an outdoor game," D'Amigo said. "I think it will be pretty cool. Hopefully it's not too cold of a day out there."

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 1:50 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Maple Leafs look to gain momentum before holiday

NEW YORK -- A difficult stretch for the Toronto Maple Leafs was made even more challenging when an ice storm hit the Toronto area, leaving a reported 215,000 people without electricity. As a result the Maple Leafs' charter plane was stuck on the runway for three hours before taking off.

The delayed flight was just the latest challenge for a Toronto team hoping to enter the Christmas break with a big win in a crucial game against the New York Rangers on Monday at Madison Square Garden.

"Points are points. You've got to always keep climbing the standings," center Nazem Kadri said. "Teams below you are trying to catch you and teams above you are trying to pull away. That's just the nature of the League. We've got to make sure we keep up with the pace."

Posted On Sunday, 12.22.2013 / 6:15 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Granlund returns to Wild's lineup

NEW YORK -- Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund will return to the lineup Sunday night against the New York Rangers after missing 11 games with a head injury. The hope is that the 21-year-old can help revitalize a Minnesota offense that has gone ice cold, scoring two or fewer goals in 11 of the past 13 games.

"I want to see him go out and play with confidence and bring what he can bring," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Obviously we'll be realistic with our expectations, but there is no better way of getting back in there except throwing him right in the fire."

Granlund was hurt on his first shift against the Phoenix Coyotes on Nov. 27, his first game back after missing two games due to another head injury. Before his struggles with injuries, he had found chemistry centering the Wild's second line between Jason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter.

Posted On Sunday, 12.22.2013 / 1:34 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Hagelin, Merrill share Big House memories

On Jan. 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will meet at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The game is expected to be a landmark hockey event, not to mention a key matchup between Original Six and Atlantic Division rivals.

But it won't be the first time the stadium has hosted hockey; the University of Michigan and Michigan State University met on Dec. 11, 2010 in a rivalry game dubbed the Big Chill at the Big House. The game drew a world record attendance of 113,411 fans. And for the future NHL players who played in that epic contest, a 5-0 Michigan win, there are still plenty of vivid memories from a special moment in hockey history.

"I had 30 people from Sweden coming in wearing the Swedish national team jersey with my name and number on the back. You couldn't see them up there since everyone was wearing yellow," said New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. "It was a great atmosphere. It was probably one of the most surreal experiences I've been a part of. The crowd was going the whole game. After the game we stayed out on the ice and waited for the fireworks. That was a good memory."

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