About halfway through the first period, I was thinking to myself ‘Wow, what a game this is going to be!’ Wrigley was rocking, tempers were flaring, and the level of play was ten times better than last year’s Classic in Buffalo. But as the 2nd period was winding down with Detroit in control, 4-3, I asked myself ‘Where did this game go?’ It was almost like the air was taken out of the 40-plus thousand gathered for the game. And suddenly the Red Wings scored 2 quickies to open up the 3rd, and I realized that this is what they do. They sucked the life out of a great event by playing their game.
Two hours after what seemed like an eventual instant classic, the Blackhawks couldn’t get possession in Detroit’s zone, the fans slowly started to file out of Wrigley to head home, and the Winter Classic quickly turned into a typical Detroit game… boring! I really hope this is the only time the NHL selects the Red Wings to participate in the annual event, but I know that won’t be the case. A lot of that feeling is because of my hatred for the USA’s version of the Swedish national team. Detroit just doesn’t have a style that will attract the college football fans away from watching their bowl games. This was Chicago’s day to showcase their young talent to the nation, and they could only do so for 20 minutes. That game had a lot of potential to be great for the NHL with the weather holding up… but the Wings put a damper on the party like they always do.
I’m not saying that Detroit should’ve changed their style of play from the other 81 games, but it just sucks that the game ended up the way it did for the league. If it was 4-4 in the 3rd, I believe a lot of non-hockey fans would’ve kept watching. But the people at CBS and ABC had their way as the average Joe flipped back to college football after the Wings took a 6-3 lead. And who knows, maybe those people would tune in to the Rangers/Penguins game later this month if the game finished well. All in all, the game lived up to the hype, and was much better than last year's 2-1 shootout in the snow.
Now, looking ahead to the 2010 Winter Classic. I think everyone is going to want a Flyers/Pens match-up at Penn State, or Bruins/Habs at Fenway. But you gotta believe the Rangers will make a huge push to host the game at either Yankee or Giants Stadium. Bruins/Rangers seems the most logical pairing if the NHL wants to have two markets in the game… or maybe even Flyers/Rangers.
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