The next time the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs get together, they'll do it in front of about 107,000 fans outdoors at Michigan Stadium. For the dress rehearsal to the Jan. 1 Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic, "only" 19,000 or so fans will pack Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.
The Original Six rivals will face each other for the first time since Jan. 7, 2012. They're coming into the game off slump-breaking victories two nights earlier: Toronto beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in a shootout; Detroit defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 in overtime.
The cameras that are following both teams for HBO's "24/7" series will be in evidence on both sides, though the players will try to ignore them.
"I don't think we're focusing on the Winter Classic as a group, we're focusing on tomorrow's game with Detroit," said Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who's optimistic he'll be able to dress despite a lower-body injury. "I think right now as a team we need those wins, and [Thursday] night was a really big win for our confidence. We can be happy but not satisfied, because we haven't won too many games lately."