Obviously with an event like the Winter Classic, there are two sides of the takeaways to think about.
As far as the game itself goes, I think there were a lot of positives for the Red Wings. They played a very solid game and were stopped by a goalie playing lights-out in Jonathan Bernier.
That said, they’ve got to find a way to win games when the opposition goalie plays so well. It’s the goalie’s job to shut you down, you’re not gonna get a lot of nights where you don’t have to find a way to beat him.
On the “event” side of things… That was pretty incredible. I’ve been comparing it to other outdoor games, which is a little unfair but is going to happen. The outcome takes it down a notch; there was something about going into Chicago and kicking the Blackhawks in the teeth.
It felt a lot like the Cold War to me. The snow and the temperature and the enormous scale were simply unprecedented. The game was hard-fought. As one of the people in the H2H3 crew (I can’t remember which, sorry) it was the magical moment that the league always tries to sell the Winter Classic as, even when you know they’re lying to you. It was visually beautiful even as we froze and even though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.
The funny thing is this wouldn’t have happened if the NHL wasn’t trying so hard to claim the world attendance record and I think they fell short. There were too many empty seats. If the league wasn’t going for that record, the game would have been at Comerica Park and, while that proved to be an awesome venue throughout December, losing the scale provided by Michigan Stadium would have made this edition just another Winter Classic in a baseball stadium.
Finally, I’ve said this many times before but this game was the reason ties need to remain. Toronto was outplayed all game and stayed alive on goaltending alone. Detroit controlled play but couldn’t score enough goals. Why did one of those teams deserve to win more than the other? Sometimes that happens, we used to call those ties.