Over 100,000 expected for 2013 Winter Classic

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Over 100,000 expected for 2013 Winter Classic

From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Next year's Winter Classic could set an attendance record. The Detroit Red Wings will face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, a matchup of two Original Six teams at the iconic college football facility that drew more than 104,000 fans for a college hockey game in 2010. The NHL formally announced the details Thursday at Comerica Park. The home of Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers will be part of the festival, hosting games involving minor league and college teams as well as the Red Wings-Maple Leafs alumni game. The centerpiece will be the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, 45 miles west of Detroit, and it will include a Canadian team for the first time. "It's Hockeytown versus the center of the hockey universe," said Brian Burke, the Toronto general manger who was at the news conference with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Red Wings officials and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, among others. The University of Michigan Board of Regents this week gave the OK to seek a contract with the NHL that would allow the league to hold the showcase game at Michigan Stadium. The NHL has offered to pay up to 3 million, according to the recommendation approved by the board. The recommendation also said the Winter Classic would be scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013, with an alternate date of Jan. 2. A liquor license would be obtained so alcohol could be served at the event, and the NHL would bring its "advertising and other sponsorship arrangements" into the stadium. Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have all hosted the Winter Classic, but a game at Michigan Stadium could draw the league's largest crowd. The Wolverines and rival Michigan State attracted a Guinness World Record 104,173 people for a hockey game on Dec. 11, 2010. The Big House has undergone changes recently, such as the addition of permanent lights. Michigan hosted its first primetime football game at the stadium last season, beating Notre Dame in dramatic fashion. Although Detroit hasn't hosted the Winter Classic, the Red Wings played in it in 2009, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field, home of baseball's Chicago Cubs. There have been two outdoor Heritage Classics north of the border: Montreal at Edmonton in 2003, and Montreal at Calgary last year. The game at Edmonton was the league's first outdoor regular-season game.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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