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100 Years of Morning Skate: Red Wings at Maple Leafs

Shouldn’t this be “Detroit Cougars at Toronto Arenas”?

2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings

Where: BMO Field - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

When: 3:00PM EST

TV: NBC, TVAS, SN

Radio: WXYT

Maple Leafs Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

I’m sure that, when the NHL announced this special match-up, they didn’t believe both teams would be toiling in the basement of the Atlantic Division. Despite a 16-16-4 record for the Detroit Red Wings (7th in the Division) and a 16-12-7 record for the Toronto Maple Leafs (5th in the Division), we should all still consider this an intense, critical, and entertaining match-up for the ages.

Make no mistake about it - despite recent events, it’s important to remember that these are two of the more storied franchises in the NHL. The Toronto franchise, first the Arenas, then the St. Patricks, and now the Maple Leafs, won the first Stanley Cup of the NHL era in its 1917-1918 founding season. Toronto has gone on to win a total of 13 Stanley Cup Championships, 6 of which saw the Red Wings as the losing team, second only to the Montreal Canadiens (24) in total Championships. Detroit, starting as the Cougars in 1926 and spending two years as the Falcons before officially becoming the Red Wings in 1932, has won the Stanley Cup a total of 11 times starting in 1936 against the Maple Leafs.

Neither team looks likely to make a splash in the playoffs this year the way they have in the past, let alone see something as incredible and heated as the 1956 “Phantom Sniper” incident (The Hockey Writers have a good account of that event here). But over the past few years there’s been drama with the Mike Babcock defection, the introduction of new and exciting players on both teams, and drastic changes in trajectory for both franchises to keep things interesting. If either squad has true aspirations for a playoff push, playing this game like it’s still the rivalry of old will go a long way toward earning 2 critical points in the standings.

Players To Watch

For Toronto, it’s points leaders Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner. The young guns have been fully entrusted with the future of the Toronto franchise, and are quickly learning how to carry the load this season with taking 6 of their last 10 games. Matthews, the 1st overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft, is a strong candidate for the Calder Memorial Trophy this season.

For Detroit, keep an eye on “back-up” goaltender Jared Coreau and goal-leader Dylan Larkin. Petr Mrazek has put up less-than-stellar numbers since being named the #1 guy during the off-season, while Coreau has been a solid net-minder in his call-up with Jimmy Howard injured. After a 3-2 OT win on the 29th in Ottawa, there could be the makings of a full-fledged goalie controversy here if Jeff Blashill goes to Coreau for a second straight start. Larkin, with 10 goals in 36 games this season, needs to string a few big games together to break out of his sophomore slump and get on track to surpass his production from his rookie debut last season. What better setting to do that than against Detroit’s oldest rival?

Projected Line-Ups

Detroit Red Wings

Tomas Tatar Henrik Zetterberg Anthony Mantha
Gustav Nyquist Frans Nielsen Thomas Vanek
Riley Sheahan Dylan Larkin Luke Glendening
Drew Miller Andreas Athanasiou Steve Ott

Danny DeKeyser Xavier Ouellet
Niklas Kronwall Brendan Smith
Jonathan Ericsson Nick Jensen

Petr Mrazek (starting)
Jared Coreau

Toronto Maple Leafs

Zach Hyman Auston Matthews Connor Brown
Leo Komarov Nazem Kadri William Nylander
John van Nieuwendyk Tyler Bozak Mitchell Marner
Matt Martin Frederik Gauthier Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Reilly Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen (starting)
Antoine Bibeau

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Game Day Prediction Contest

Would you like to predict the outcome of the game and potentially become internet famous? Well you're in luck, because here's your opportunity. Here's how it works.

Make your game predictions on the winning team, final score, and who the Wings player of the game will be. Enter the required information into the form below using the formats indicated in the questions. If you don't use those formats, your answers will be disregarded. All submissions are timestamped and will be accepted only until the official game start time. All other submissions after that will be disregarded. Only one submission per person, please. POTG will be determined by the collective of WiiM writers.

Each correct winning team prediction is worth 1 point. Each correct player of the game prediction is worth 2 points. Each correct final score prediction is worth 5 points. If you get all three correct you'll receive 15 points.