Divisional rivals. Original six franchises. And both teams are on the outside of the playoff picture in 2016 and heading into 2017.
But the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will represent something far more than just two teams looking to pick up two points. While that will certainly be a focus for the clubs heading into Sunday’s Centennial Classic, they will also be representing 100 years of NHL hockey – and for the Leafs, 100 years of their franchise’s existence.
The conditions for the game are seemingly perfect – aside from too much sun. And yes, for outdoor games, that is a particular complaint that can (and in this case will) delay the start of a game. Otherwise, the ice is top-notch and the two teams seem eager to get out on the playing service in front of the crowd at BMO Field.
This will be the first time two teams will take part in an outdoor rematch and it seems fitting that it comes down to two of the more storied franchises in the NHL. It’s the first meeting between the two clubs this season with three more to follow, but they’ve seen a lot of each other over the years.
Over 657 games against one another, the Leafs hold a slight edge with a record of 281-280-93-3 outscoring their counterparts by just 19 goals over that span. With their cities being in such close proximity, it will certainly be a fiery crowd when the two clubs take to the ice on Sunday afternoon.
Detroit Red Wings at Toronto Maple Leafs
BMO Field – 3:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – SN, NBC and TVAS
2016-17 Season Series: First meeting of the season
Detroit Red Wings – 16-16-4 – 36 Points
Road Record: 9-6-1
Key Injuries: Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard and Riley Sheahan
Tomas Tatar-Henrik Zetterberg-Anthony Mantha
Gustav Nyquist-Frans Nielsen-Thomas Vanek
Tomas Jurco-Dylan Larkin-Luke Glendening
Drew Miller-Andreas Athanasiou-Steve Ott
Danny DeKeyser-Nick Jensen
Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith
Jonathan Ericsson-Xavier Ouellet
Toronto Maple Leafs – 16-12-7 – 39 Points
Home Record: 9-6-2
Hot Players: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Frederik Andersen
Key Injuries: Joffrey Lupul, Martin Marincin and Ben Smith
Leo Komarov-Nazem Kadri-William Nylander
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitchell Marner
Matt Martin-Frederik Gauthier-Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly-Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner-Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick-Roman Polak
1)Road teams are 14-4-1 in the NHL’s 19 regular season outdoor games, so things are looking good for Detroit in that sense.
2)Between college, the AHL and the NHL, Luke Glendening has played in five outdoor games. This will be James van Riemsdyk’s fourth NHL outdoor game.
3)Only eight Maple Leafs have played in an outdoor game at the NHL level. Only two of them have registered a point in those games. Both Tyler Bozak and van Riemsdyk have one point each.
4)Auston Matthews has 12 goals in his last 16 games for the Maple Leafs since his 13-game goalless drought. He now sits just one point behind Patrik Laine in rookie points having played four less games than the Winnipeg star.
The Leafs will be looking for another two big points as they inch closer to a playoff spot, while the Red Wings are looking to create some consistency in a season that hasn’t gone their way. Both teams will be fighting some elements – like the sun – but it should otherwise be a perfect day for some outdoor hockey.