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NHL: The best Winter Classics of all-time

The 14th edition of the NHL's Winter Classic will take place at Fenway Park as the Boston Bruins host the Pittsburgh Penguins on 2nd January 2023. 

The outdoor spectacular has become a hallmark of the NHL calendar since 2008 and ahead of the latest instalment, we take a look back at the best Winter Classics in history. 

The Bruins are current +310 favourites for Eastern Conference glory this season, while Pittsburgh are trading at +1100.

2008: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Pittsburgh Penguins 2 Buffalo Sabres 1 

No Winter Classic has matched the intrigue and excitement of the first one which took place in 2008 in New York between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguin. 

The game was attended by 71,217 people with tickets selling out in less than 30 minutes and at the time it set an NHL attendance record. 

The hype was extreme for the game, with every facet covered in tiny detail to see if, and how the NHL could pull of a rink build in seven days to host an event of the magnitude.   

Despite far from ideal weather conditions, the game was completed successfully and paved the way for the Winter Classic to become an annual NHL New Year tradition as testament to its success.   

In arguably the most iconic Winter Classic jersey of all time, a baby blue number, Penguins' Colby Armstrong scored the first and quickest goal in the events history after just 21 seconds.   

The game was later finished in perfect fashion as arguably the NHL's biggest star of the time, Sidney Crosby, scored in the third round of a shoot-out past a woolly hatted Ryan Miller in the Sabres net.   

2009: Wrigley Field, Detroit Red Wings 6, Chicago Blackhawks 4 

Nearly 41,000 fans crowded the famous Wrigley, and even more watched from rooftops across the street, as the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings put on an offensive show outdoors in 2009. 

The Red Wings were the defending Stanley Cup Champions at the time, and knew their arch-rivals were quickly ascending to challenge their throne which they did by winning three championships between 2010 and 2015. 

The Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead by the end of the first period, but on the night, the Red Wings roared back with five straight goals to prevail 6-3 in the end. 

2014: Michigan Stadium, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 Detroit Red Wings 2 

The 2014 Winter Classic was the very definition of what the event is all about and aside from the first, produced arguably the best spectacle of all and one of the best games too. 

Held at Ann Arbour in Michigan in front of an NHL all-time record of 105,491 fans, two original six sides faced off wearing their full-colour uniforms with snow falling from the sky and the temperate in the low teens. 

What made the event particularly special was the split crowd, one half in Maple Leaf blue and the other in Red Wings' red and they were treated to a game which went all the way to a shoot-out where Tyler Bozak won it for Toronto. 

During the game, a host of skaters were on hand to clear piles of snow off the ice, the ball in the referee's whistle had to be continually de-frozen and the players not only fought against their opposition, but a wind chill of zero and below. 

It truly was hockey vs. the elements and hockey certainly won. 

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2011: Heinz Field, Washington Capitals 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 1 

Few Winter Classics have been built up as much as the 2011 event as heated rivals Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals faced-off with two of the NHL's biggest stars on each side, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. 

A big part of the charm was HBO's first season of "24/7", which followed both teams in the build-up to the big occasion and remains the season by which all other NHL reality shows are judged. 

The game was moved from an afternoon to evening face-off due to concerns about rain which meant the teams faced-off under the floodlights which created an unbelievable luminescence that could be seen for miles in all directions across Pittsburgh. 

The Capitals were victorious and celebrated wildly to prove their disdain for their opposition, but the game will mostly be remembered for Dave Steckel's hit on Penguins' Captain Crosby which forced him out of the remainder of the season with concussion-like symptoms.

2020: Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas Stars 4, Nashville Predators 2 

What do you get when you sent an NHL outdoor game to Dallas? Pig races of course. 

The aesthetics of the 2020 classic were among the best and most unique of any of the past events, not least because neither team were from the Original Six which had become a common theme. 

The area around the rink screamed Texas and everything there is to love about the destination chosen by the NHL, from giant cowboy boots to a mechanical bull to the aforementioned sprinting pigs. 

85,630 fans generated a lively atmosphere as the Stars rallied from a 2-1 deficit with four straight goals, three of them in the third period to be victorious.

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