The NHL rang in 2014 with the Winter Classic, which despite the frigid temperatures, was a hot ticket. Our morning preview has all of your Winter Classic recap news. Oh, and news from that other game that happened yesterday too.
Essential Water Cooler
The 2014 Winter Classic featured the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings in front of an astounding crowd of 105,491 fans who braved the cold, which dropped below zero at Michigan Stadium thanks to the addition of bitter cold wind. Jonathan Bernier, who has been on a roll since coming back from a lower body injury, made 43 saves to earn the win for Toronto. The former first-round pick may have solidified himself as the legitimate No.1 goalie for the Maple Leafs, which could beg the following question. Will James Reimer accept being a permanent back-up in Toronto?
Men of the Night
Jonathan Bernier, Toronto: Sure, he’s already been mentioned in the story, but he deserves praise times two for his exceptional performance for the Leafs and because of the amazing toque he sported atop his helmet during the game.
Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay: The 29-year-old Finnish center had a nice game for the Lighting in their 4-2 win over Vancouver, potting a goal and adding an assist for a Tampa squad that sits just two points out of first in the Atlantic Division. And this has been without Steven Stamkos. Look out Boston.
Tyler Bozak, Toronto: We’ve got to give props to Bozak for his Winter Classic performance. He tipped in a goal to put the Leafs up 2-1 in the third period and scored the eventual shootout winner. Bozak has four points in two games since his return to Maple Leafs line-up.
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay: The youngster out of Russia may not be the biggest guy on the ice standing 5-foot-11 and weighing 171 pounds, but size doesn’t matter in Tampa (see Martin St. Louis). The 2011 second round selection scored the game-winning goal for the Lighting and showed his might with a huge slapshot over the shoulder of Eddie Lack.
Better Luck Next Time
Sorry Tomas Tatar, but sometimes simple is better, especially when you’re playing on a pond surface that isn’t the greatest. Tatar tried to get too fancy and fanned hard on his shootout attempt. Watch the fan job below.