By Ashley Dunkak
ANN ARBOR (CBS DETROIT) – At a site that geographically favored the Detroit Red Wings, the crowd at the Winter Classic turned out to be at least 50 percent Toronto Maple Leafs fans, and the Wings faltered as the home team yet again.
Detroit is 6-10-7 in home games in 2013-2014. The Edmonton Oilers, last in the Pacific Division, have also only won six in friendly arenas. Only the New York Islanders, in last place in the Metropolitan Division, have won fewer.
Unlike the Oilers and Islanders, though, the Red Wings have flourished on the road with an away record of 12-4-3.
With the Winter Classic in the rearview mirror, the HBO reality series “24/7” that followed the teams over the last month will conclude, and Detroit will move on to five straight road games.
The Red Wings face Dallas on Jan.4, San Jose on Jan. 9, Los Angeles on Jan. 11, Anaheim on Jan. 12 and the New York Rangers on Jan. 16. After playing in Ann Arbor on Jan. 1, the Red Wings do not play a home game until Jan. 18.
“It’s actually going to be nice to get away a little bit,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “A lot of things going on here with 24/7 building up for this and also Christmas, a lot of family in town. It’s going to be nice to go away for a few days here, just the guys, and kind of get together for the second half of the year.
“The crews that’s been with us has been awesome, have been good guys and kept it real easy for us,” Zetterberg added, “but in the same way, it’s going to be nice to kind of get away now, just the team, and get together and play some good hockey here.”
While 24/7 – the hockey equivalent of “Hard Knocks” that features an NFL team during training camp – could be seen as a nightmare for a team, exposing its inner workings and personality quirks, players said they really did not mind the crew.
“We got to know them pretty good,” Alfredsson said. “I think it’s intrusive in the beginning, but I want to hand it to them. They did an unbelievable job blending in and respecting us at the same time as trying to get the best footage they can. I think they were real pros and made it fun for us as well.”
After all the scrutiny and hype preceding the Winter Classic, which by all accounts seemed an enormous success, the Red Wings can get back to the grind of the season, starting with the upcoming trip.
“I’ll miss the kids, but we have done well on the road,” forward Daniel Alfredsson said. “It seems like we’re starting to get a little bit healthier as a team, and that’s going to help us. We want to try to have a good push here a month and a bit going into the Olympic break and then put ourselves in a good position.”