NHL MORNING SKATE – JAN. 1, 2014
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WINTER CLASSIC QUICK HITS
* The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (1:00 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, SiriusXM Radio) marks the sixth edition of the game and eighth outdoor regular-season game in League history (also 2003 and 2011 Heritage Classics).
* The home team is 2-4-1 in the previous seven outdoor NHL regular-season games, with the two victories by the Bruins in the 2010 Winter Classic and Flames in the 2011 Heritage Classic.
* Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk is slated to become the first player to appear in three Winter Classics (Flyers in 2010 and 2012) – and second to play in three outdoor NHL regular-season games, joining goaltender Ty Conklin (Oilers in 2003 Heritage Classic, Penguins in 2008 Winter Classic, Red Wings in 2009 Winter Classic).
* The Red Wings and Maple Leafs would both qualify for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs – as Wild Cards in the Eastern Conference – if the season ended today.
WINTER CLASSIC FORECAST
The Weather Channel hourly forecast for Ann Arbor today:
PLAYERS EXCITED FOR WINTER CLASSIC
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Wednesday’s Winter Classic at the University of Michigan won’t just be the best-attended hockey game ever played. It also marks the start of an unprecedented 62-day stretch that will see the league take six games outdoors while pushing its overall business close to $4 billion per year.” – Chris Johnston (Sportsnet)
“This season’s Winter Classic is unique for reasons beyond the fact that the NHL will set an attendance record by putting more than 107,000 people in Michigan Stadium. As many as 40,000 fans are coming from out of town, and a slate of games at a second outdoor rink at Comerica Park will draw 130,000 or more people to Detroit.” – Kevin Allen (USA Today)
“You walk out into the empty expanse of Michigan Stadium, the ice glistening, flawless in the late morning, and it strikes you again, what a cool idea this whole Winter Classic thing is . . . As the NHL prepares to roll out its signature regular-season event, we are reminded once again of the Winter Classic’s unique status, not just in the game but in all of sport.” – Scott Burnside (ESPN)
“It will be spectacular . . . The cinematic nature of the game, under the sky and under the lights, holds its power.” – Bruce Arthur (National Post)
“The Winter Classic continues to feel different. Very different. That majestic appeal has yet to wear off. The Winter Classic remains the sport’s equivalent of a six-year-old kid waking up and seeing the presents Santa left under the tree. It has that level of unbridled excitement and anticipation.” – Brian Stubits (CBS Sports)
“I am as excited for this as I have been for any sporting event in a long time.” – Nick Cotsonika (Yahoo! Sports)
RED WINGS TAKE ALUMNI SHOWDOWN
The Red Wings won both games  of the 2013 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park, taking a 5-4 decision in the first contest and 6-5 shootout victory in second game.
ICYMI: The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic by the numbers  . . . Hexacopter tour  of The Big House . . . Photo galleries from the Maple Leafs’  and Red Wings’  practices at Michigan Stadium as well as the 2013 Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown  at Comerica Park . . . Latest time-lapse video  of the rink build at The Big House . . . Live webcam  from Michigan Stadium . . . Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger wears eye black during team’s practice at The Big House.
New Jersey 2, Pittsburgh 1
NY Rangers 2, Florida 1 (SO)
St. Louis 2, Minnesota 1
NY Islanders 5, Boston 3
Carolina 5, Montreal 4 (OT)
Winnipeg 3, Buffalo 0
Dallas 3, Los Angeles 2
Colorado 5, Columbus 3
Anaheim 6, San Jose 3
Philadelphia 4, Calgary 1
Phoenix 4, Edmonton 3 (OT)
Jaden Schwartz scored the game-winning goal to extend his goal/point streak to six games (6-2—8) and help the Blues improve to 27-7-5 (59 points), the team’s second-best record ever (in terms of points percentage) through Dec. 31 . . . John Tavares posted 2-2—4 to lead the Islanders back from a two-goal deficit, the second consecutive game in which they overcame a deficit of two or more goals (trailed 3-0 Sunday versus the Wild) . . . Alexander Semin scored at 3:27 of overtime to complete the Hurricanes’ rally from a three-goal, second-period deficit . . . The Ducks scored four consecutive goals to split their home-and-home with the Sharks and improve to 29-8-5 (63 points), their best record ever through 42 games. They also improved to 15-0-2 this season at Honda Center, becoming the third team in the past 25 years to begin a season with points in 17 or more consecutive home games (2008-09 Sharks: 20-0-2, 1988-89 Flames: 14-0-3) . . . Mikkel Boedker posted the tying goal with 1:10 remaining in regulation and Keith Yandle tallied the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left in overtime, the Coyotes’ franchise-record sixth consecutive game that required extra time (2-0-4).