Memories from the Red Wings’ 2009 Winter Classic

On Saturday morning, the Penguins and Capitals are scheduled to meet at Heinz Field in the outdoor hockey game that the NHL has used to mark the new year. With a pending heat wave coming to the Three Rivers area, the NHL finds themselves in a catch 22 for the first time in Winter Classic history.

When not in a pending battle with Mother Nature, the Winter Classic and truly become one of those timeless events that the NHL puts on the schedule. Take 2009 for example – who would have known that Blackhawks-Wings would be on its way to the top of rivalry escalation mountain. Here’s a look back:

The interesting subplot for the Winter Classic has become the unintended karma backlash of the game’s winner. In the first three versions, one of the game’s participants have appeared in that season’s Stanley Cup Finals – always losing. If the same holds true this season, the winner will come out of the league’s Western Conference. In that season, the Red Wings followed a 6-4 victory against the Blackhawks into a devastating seven game loss to the Penguins in the Cup Finals.

The game at Wrigley was exciting on many counts, even if it meant the third time on outdoor ice for Wings netminder Ty Conklin. Conklin, was one of those weird stats in history – a player that had seen action in Edmonton and Buffalo during previous games. While he looked shaky from the outset, Conklin eventually settled down to only give up one goal over the final two-plus periods for the Wings.

Jiri Hudler also played a starring role for the visiting team. His two goals and an assist sparked a team that was thrown from the first face-off. He tied the game with precision, then used his speed to set up the game winning goal. Nicklas Lidstrom, playing on a bad ankle, led by example and sent the Red Wings fans back home happy on I-94.