NHL Winter Classic
The MLB has the Fourth of July, the NFL has Thanksgiving and when it comes to the NHL, they have New Year's Day and the Winter Classic! This one-off game which is played on or around New Year's Day is not played in the host's arena, this unique game is played at an outside sporting venue within the host's area which is usually a baseball park or football stadium that is then converted into a makeshift skating rink for the match!
Who's playing in the NHL Winter Classic? The 2025 Winter Classic will be announced soon, as soon as it is we will update this section.
Useful NHL Winter Classic Links
2008 was the first time we got to witness this fantastic event. It took place at the then Ralph Wilson Stadium which is home to the Buffalo Bills and now under the name of the Highmark Stadium in which the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout in front of a crowd of 71,217 which at the time was a record attendance and is now the third biggest attendance this series has seen.
NHL Stanley Cup Preview & Betting Guide
The biggest attendance in the history of the NHL came at the 2014 Winter Classic when there were 105,491 fans, which is almost twenty thousand more than the next best which was 85,630 at the 2020 Winter Classic. The NHL record during the 2014 Winter Classic is not the actual record for ice hockey in the USA, the 'The Big Chill at the Big House' in 2010 at the same venue as the 2014 Winter Classic produced a crowd of 113,411 when Michigan Wolverines beat rivals Michigan State Spartans 5-0.
One factor of the Winter Classic which proves very popular with fans is the throwback sweaters, the two teams competing in the game generally reintroduce a sweater from back in the day and wear it in the one-off game. The whole build-up and the day itself is just an enjoyable experience and more than just hockey, it's about bringing entertainment and joy to the fans.
There is no fixed selection process which means you are not going to get Eastern Conference vs Western Conference each year, some years you will get teams from the same conference, it's more a case of picking the most popular teams to play in the Winter Classic.
Past NHL Winter Classics
The change of venue seems to upset a few of the 'Home' teams, they might still be playing in the vicinity of their official arena but losing that 'home ice advantage' seems to be the case as from the fifteen previous NHL Winter Classics, the home side has won just six of those meaning the visiting team have been successful in 60% of the matches (9-15) which seems to show the home sides losing that home arena advantage although they have now won three of the last four.
The Chicago Blackhawks have made the joint-most appearances at the winter classic, four times they have featured, however, unfortunately for them, they have gone on to lose all four of those games! Their appearance in the 2023 game moved the Boston Bruins on to four appearances too, they do however, have a much better record having gone on to win three of those.
The Blues, Rangers, and Capitals have a 2-0 record whilst joining the Blackhawks with multiple games without winning at the Sabres and Flyers who are both 0-2.
Here are the last ten Winter Classic winners:
Vegas Golden Knights
St. Louis Blues
|Notre Dame Stadium
New York Rangers
|St. Louis Blues
|Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
*The 2013 edition was postponed due to the lockout and played in 2014 instead
**The 2021 edition was postponed due to the pandemic and was played in 2022 instead
NHL Winter Classics Betting Tips
As pointed out above, the home team seems to lose any home advantage for this series, which is more than likely because they are not playing at their usual arena, the support will still be there, in fact, they will probably have more support than normal with the larger stadium being used. Take the 2022 game, the Wilds home at the Xcel Energy Center holds about 18k fans whilst at Target Field there were 38,519 so there was a lot more supporting watching and cheering on.
The goal line in ice hockey is set at 5.5 goals and looking back over past encounters, three of the last five have gone over (2-4, 4-2 & 4-6), however, before that 9 of the 10 games all went under 5.5 goals, between 2008 & 2018, the only game to go over was the 2009 game when the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field.
It's worth noting that five of the six victories that the home sides have won have come at baseball stadiums where the home team has a 5-3 record and when playing at football stadiums their record is just 1-5.
The winter classic is just one game in a long season for the NHL and our tipsters have you covered throughout the season, we have a dedicated page set up to highlight only the best tipsters, our NHL Best Tipsters page will highlight only tipsters who have shown a profit over the past year and those who currently have open tips. Of course, you can also head over to the NHL Predictions page for daily tips during the season, see which outcomes are most picked and also read our tipsters NHL analysis.
NHL Winter Classic Transformation
Ever wondered how a stadium is transformed to host the NHL Winter Classic? This timelapse is of the transformation of the Michigan Stadium for the record-breaking 2014 Winter Classic which attracted over 100k fans!
Andrew Powell manages our hockey analysis articles, meticulously updating the data whilst our Vancouver-based hockey specialist Noah Strang writes the words. Together they maintain all the stateside hockey content for OLBG
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