2014 NHL Winter Classic: Complete Preview and Predictions

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2014 NHL Winter Classic: Complete Preview and Predictions
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The 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will take place New Year's Day in Ann Arbor, Mich. It's not the best matchup in the history of NHL outdoor games, but it has the potential to be the most memorable of all the contests.

The Wings and Leafs will enter the game as playoff teams in the East, as both will be sitting in wild-card spots when the puck is dropped. The 2011 edition between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2009 game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Red Wings featured teams with better records, but this game on Wednesday has plenty going for it.

The Leafs aren't exactly defensive stalwarts and tend to allow a lot of prime scoring chances. They are also a team that enjoys playing a back-and-forth style, which should lend itself to fun hockey against a Red Wings team that is mostly healthy now.

Throw in the fact that the forecast for Wednesday calls for light snow and the game will be played in front of an expected record crowd of about 107,000 at Michigan Stadium, and this could be the best Winter Classic of the bunch.

To get you prepared for the 1 p.m. ET contest, here's a breakdown of both clubs, storylines, players to watch and a prediction.

 

All statistics via NHL.com.

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