Sure, the Red Wings have won two straight, but the season after their first missed playoff appearance in 25 seasons has been a struggle.
The Red Wings are 15-16-7, seven points and five teams behind in the race for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and, at one point, had a stretch of just three victories in 16 games.
It might have Red Wings fans dreaming of happier times.
ESPN provided a respite to those woes Tuesday, ranking the 10 Winter Classics — those games played on or around New Year’s Day in outdoor stadiums in front of huge crowds and in sometimes blustery conditions.
The Red Wings were involved in two of them, including the game ESPN picked as No. 1.
The 2014 showdown between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor topped ESPN’s list, thanks to history of the rivalry, the venue, and the wintry conditions.
As ESPN’s Greg Wyshyski writes, “The Winter Classic in its idyllic form.”
The game, won by the Maple Leafs in a shootout, 3-2, drew 015,491 fans to The Big House in conditions that were, as Wyshyski writes, “punishing, with snow falling and wind whipping and temperatures that actually froze the ball inside of the officials’ whistles.
“It’s said there will never be a Winter Classic game like the first one (in 2008),” Wyshyski writes. “Well, there will never be another Winter Classic like this one, either. Now, if we can just get the Wings and Leafs to both wear their full-color uniforms in the same game more often ...”
The Red Wings’ tussle with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009 at Wrigley Field landed at No. 4 on the list. The second installment of the Winter Classic was played at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and won by the Red Wings, 6-4.
The game, Wyshyski writes, “changed our perception of where this gimmick could go.”
Monday's Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres played at Citi Field in New York ranked No. 6.