Winter Classic: The Best, the Worst, the Best Performers, the Quirky Numbers

There’s been seven Winter Classics going back to its 2008 inception. The eighth will be played on Friday afternoon at Gillette Stadium when the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens take the outdoors for the latest installment of the hockey rivalry that is among the top one percent in sports lore.

Here’s a look at the first seven classics.

Ranking ‘em one through seven

  1. 2008, Pittsburgh def. Buffalo, 2-1 (SO) at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The first of anything most times is the best of anything, and the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo has been hard to top. The snow falling, the back-and-forth action between the two teams set the scene for great hockey and an even better sightline. Too often a buzzkill, the shootout added to the moment for once, with Sidney Crosby – the game’s biggest star – potting the winner in the skills competition. Nothing could’ve better set the tone for the event than this game.
  2. 2010, Bruins def. Philadelphia, 2-1 (OT). Mark Recchi scored with 2:18 left in regulation, setting up the B’s overtime win when Patrice Bergeron found Marco Sturm on the doorstep to give Boston the win. Though the B’s likely wished they saved that victory for May, as they lost to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, blowing a 3-0 series in the best-of-seven set.
  3. 2015, Washington def. Chicago, 3-2. The eventual Stanley Cup champs Chicago Blackhawks lost to the host Capitals, as Troy Brouwer scored with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Eric Fehr continued his Winter Classic prowess, scoring 7:01 into the game to give the Caps the first lead, his third goal in two Winter Classic games.
  4. 2012, New York def. Philadelphia, 3-2. Drama is what makes the world go around, and there was plenty at Citizens Bank Park. Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was called for covering the puck in the crease, leading to a Flyers penalty shot, with 19.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Henrik Lundqvist turned aside Danny Briere’s bid to ice the game, but it didn’t end there, as Blueshirts head coach John Tortorella insisted the call was an inside job by the league to force overtime. The coach was fined $30,000 for the comments.
  5. 2014, Toronto def. Detroit, 3-2 (SO). The second of two Winter Classics to be decided by a shootout. Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier stopped 41 shots in regulation and overtime before turning aside two of three bids in the skills competition.
  6. 2009, Detroit def. Chicago, 6-4. The highest scoring game by far. The defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings scored five unanswered goals in the second and third period to take control of the game. Jiri Hudler (2-1–3), Henrik Zetterberg (0-3-3), and Marian Hossa (0-3–3) each had three-point games.
  7. 2011, Washington def. Pittsburgh, 3-1. The game was pushed back to 8 p.m. due to weather concerns, delaying the Crosby-Alex Ovechkin showdown. Fehr scored the second and third goals to give the Caps the win.

Records

  1. Washington (2-0)
  2. Detroit (1-0-1)
  3. Boston (1-0)
  4. New York Rangers (1-0)
  5. Toronto (1-0)
  6. Pittsburgh (1-1)
  7. Buffalo (0-0-1)
  8. Philadelphia (0-1-1)
  9. Chicago (0-2)

All-Winter Classic Team

F- Jiri Hudler. Scored two goals and assisted on another in the 2009 Winter Classic, leading the Red Wings to the 6-4 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

F- Mark Recchi. Scored the game-tying goal with 2:18 remaining, setting up the Bruins 2-1 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park.

F- Eric Fehr. The Caps forward has three goals in two games (2011, 2015), playing a key role in Washington being the lone NHL team to win multiple Winter Classics.

D- Dion Phaneuf. The Toronto Maple Leafs captain did all the heavy lifting in the 2014 classic, a 3-2 shootout win for the Leafs, logging 28:24 of ice-time and assisting on both Toronto goals in regulation.

D- Dan Girardi. The Rangers blueliner was on the ice for 28:35 of the 60-minute game in 2012, which remains the standard for ice time in the Winter Classic.

G- Henrik Lundqvist. The marquis game of King Hank’s Vezina Trophy-winning campaign of the 2011-12 season, turning aside 34 of 36 shots. He stymied Philadelphia’s Danny Briere on a penalty shot with 19.6 seconds left in regulation to seal the win.

Winter Classic by the Numbers

*Washington Capitals (2-0) the lone team to win multiple Winter Classics.

*The Bruins become the sixth team to play in two Winter Classics, joining Washington (2-0), Pittsburgh (1-1), Detroit (1-0-1), Philadelphia (0-1-1), and Chicago (0-2).

*Five of the seven games have been decided by one goal, and none have been decided by more than two. Three have required more than 60 minutes of play, two have been decided by a shootout.

*No player has ever scored a hat trick, and no goalie has ever recorded a shutout.

*Gillette Stadium is the third NFL venue to host the event, joining Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium (2008) and Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field (2011). Four games have been held in baseball stadiums, with one being held in a college football venue, when Detroit hosted Toronto at Michigan Stadium in 2014.

*Four teams (Pittsburgh, 2008; Chicago, 2009; Boston, 2010; Chicago, 2015) won the Stanley Cup within two years after playing in the Winter Classic. The Blackhawks became the first team to win the cup in the same season after participating in the Winter Classic, when they won their third Stanley Cup since 2010 this past June.

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