Red Wings Face a Maple Leafs Team that is Exceeding Expectations
The sight lines at BMO Field will likely seem better, but no one will dare to compare the experience to the Big House where the Leafs and Red Wings last clashed in the great outdoors.
Ticket sales have been a challenge — a concept once considered impossible for NHL hockey in Toronto — be it a reflection of many factors including prices, big-event overload and outdoor game indifference.
And the prospect of nursing a New Year’s hangover with a cold wind off Lake Ontario? Not for everyone.
If you want some buzz for Sunday’s Centennial Classic, however, look no further than the home team. By almost any measure coach Mike Babcock’s Leafs have exceeded expectations, both for this season and in the overall turnaround/rebuild since the 2014 Winter Classic three years ago.
Winners of four in a row, including a pair of back-to-backs on the road, the Leafs are very much in the Atlantic Division playoff picture and can be discussed in such context with a straight face sooner than many expected.