The crowd at Wrigley Field is pumped and so are we. Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun are checking in from the Winter Classic during today's game between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.
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Joy Russo (4:04 p.m. ET): Unfortunately puckheads, we have to sign off. Our resident scribes must trek down to interview players after the game. Be sure to check out all of our postgame coverage here!
Pierre LeBrun (3:48 p.m. ET): Pretty quiet now at Wrigley. A realization, I think, that not only is the game over, but perhaps the sobering thought that their young team isn't ready to challenge the Red Wings for supremacy. The Hawks entered the week with a chance to tie the Wings for the division lead with a home-and-home sweep. The opposite will happen, leaving the Hawks eight points back and needing to pick up the pieces moving forward.
Scott Burnside (3:41 p.m. ET): Very impressive showing from a Red Wings team that has, by their own admission, not been able to bring it every night. Ty Conklin just 12:58 from winning his second straight Winter Classic.
Pierre LeBrun (3:38 p.m. ET): Well, well, well ... the NHL's first Winter Classics video review. We don't exactly have the best angles compared to a regular game, but the Wings are sure they've scored. And they were right. 6-3. Make it five unanswered goals by the Cup champs. Amazing to see the slumping shoulders on the Hawks bench. They were full of energy in the first period after going up 3-1, but now there's not a player making a sound. Oh, and yeah Scotty, Huet isn't ready for prime time after all. He just got the hook.
Scott Burnside (3:34 p.m. ET): What were we saying about Huet establishing himself as the starter? He just allowed a very weak goal to give Detroit a 5-3 lead. The Wings just thought they'd scored again. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will be motioning for the right-hander to come out of the bullpen if this keeps up.
Scott Burnside (3:33 p.m. ET): The third period is just under way and I think we need to see some more Ben Eager. Oops. Guess we won't see him for the next couple of minutes as the Hawks are killing off a penalty. Pretty sure they don't want to go down two to the Red Wings.
Joy Russo (3:28 p.m. ET): Third period is under way ... and we check in with our masked friends outside the park.
Joy Russo (3:11 p.m. ET): We'll be back for the third period.
Pierre LeBrun (3:10 p.m. ET): It's 4-3 after 40 minutes -- six of the seven goals scored in the same net. The two teams will split the third period so that the wind-aided end won't be a factor, Scotty reminds me. Fantastic game so far, the best of the three outdoor games by far. As a sidenote as we break for the intermission, actor Vince Vaughn is here and towered over NHL commissioner Gary Bettman when the two posed for a picture.
Pierre LeBrun (3:05 p.m. ET): That was a shinny goal!
Scott Burnside (3:04 p.m. ET): Oh my goodness. Is Pavel Datsyuk any good? He simply blew past Brian Campbell like he was a statue to score a pretty goal to give the Wings the 4-3 lead. The Hawks have to be a demoralized group as time ticks away in the second. That 3-1 lead is a distant memory.
Pierre LeBrun (3:01 p.m. ET): Not sure if the folks at home watching on TV can see this, but during the commercial breaks, the staff is coming out and shoveling snow in certain areas of the ice. Last year, the ice got so bad at this point in the second period, that play was stopped and the Zamboni actually came out. No sign of Mr. Z right now. The ice looks to be holding up.
Scott Burnside (2:57 p.m. ET): Pierre, once again you prove the visionary, as the Wings just tied it up and nearly had another goal off the ensuing faceoff. As our colleague E.J. Hradek pointed out, scoring is way up in Winter Classics.
Pierre LeBrun (2:54 p.m. ET): Nice and warm up here in the press box, Jena. And from this vantage point, the Wings are now controlling the tempo of the game. The ice is holding up well, Detroit is whipping that puck around, north and south and D to D. They just forced the Hawks into a penalty. If the wind is that much of a factor in one direction, guess the Wings better score a couple more before going back to the wrong end for the third period?
Joy Russo (2:50 p.m. ET): One of our ESPN.com editors, Jena Janovy, checks in from the wildness that is Wrigleyville:
Whoa, the beer is flowing freely all around Wrigley. And from a quick walk through the stands along the first-base side of the field, beer sales far outpaced hot chocolate sales during that first period.
And trying to walk up and down the stairs through the stands is next to impossible. Fans are bundled up with so much winter wear -- snowmobile suits, camouflage hunting suits and parkas -- that they're literally spilling into the aisles.
The stands are no place for dainty ears, either!
Scott Burnside (2:47 p.m. ET): A bit of a lull in the action here. If you're wondering where all the snow came from, the snow covering the spaces around the rink and gives the field a nice, pristine look, they brought in snow-making machines the other night, the kind that are used at ski hills.
Pierre LeBrun (2:42 p.m. ET): Yes, we're told the wind is blowing in the face of Huet now for this period. We'll see how much of a factor that really is. Huet just went down hard after Marian Hossa crashed into him. He's OK and the Hawks have a PP with Hossa in the box.
Scott Burnside (2:39 p.m. ET): Four of the five goals scored at the first-base end of the rink. Coincidence? It's hard to tell from the flags fluttering in center field, but maybe the breeze is in the face of that goal.
Joy Russo (2:34 p.m. ET): Second period is under way, and it didn't take long for Detroit to score (just under two minutes into it).
Joy Russo (2:14 p.m. ET): OK, puckheads. We'll be back at the start of the second period. In the meantime, here are some random pregame sightings:
--Walking to Wrigley, we noticed the Red Wings team bus drive by, which sparked a rowdy response from Hawks fans outside the park. We can't repeat the chant here in our G-rated blog.
--A handful of Red Wings players staging a game of pick-up soccer in one of the Wrigley concourses, as fans walked by. Our sources tell us that, at one point, Henrik Zetterberg inadvertently sent the soccer ball into a concession stand.
--Days before today's game, workers placed cards on every seat in Wrigley Field for a TV stunt. The aerial view captured the first "stunt" -- showing the crowd spelling out "Happy New Year." But the second "stunt" was supposed to have one half of the crowd spell out "Hawks" and the other "Red Wings." From our view, Hawks fans realized that they were spelling "Red Wings," got fed up and threw the cards in the air (think of the cap toss from your high school graduation, and you get the picture).
--A Hawks fan hanging a plastic octopus from the upper deck of Wrigley.
--It wouldn't be an outdoor hockey game without the random shirtless fan. Scott Burnside noticed a few along the third-base line.
Pierre LeBrun (2:13 p.m. ET): I thought Eric Daze retired? Didn't No. 55 of the Hawks just drive the net, then pick up a loose puck behind the net and wrap in a goal? Holy Ben Eager, Batman! You know it's your day when your tough guy is looking like Wayne Gretzky. Great opening period for the Hawks, who fought back hard after the Wings pressured hard in the middle of the period.
Scott Burnside (2:11 p.m. ET): Remember last year when it didn't take long before players couldn't even pass two or three feet? Well, today, it looks like the ice is holding up pretty well. There have been a number of long, tape-to-tape passes and some nifty moves.
Pierre LeBrun (2:08 p.m. ET): Cristobal Huet just made another huge save. This could be an interesting moment in the Hawks' season in terms of their goaltending. Scotty, you mentioned to me earlier today that you believe Huet is beginning to assert himself over Nikolai Khabibulin. A big performance here today would really get the process going. We might all look back at New Year's Day and remember when Huet took the ball and ran with it. That's not to say Khabibulin will turn into a back-up, but Huet is beginning to look as comfortable as he's been since signing here.
Scott Burnside (2:04 p.m. ET): The Wings are a man short again, but shouldn't be. Andreas Lilja got drilled into the boards from behind and then got caught retaliating. Ty Conklin just had the puck squeeze through him, but managed to sweep the puck away. The Hawks have shown a lot more jump than they did the other night when they didn't score early and got waxed 4-0.
Joy Russo (2 p.m. ET): Blackhawks, now up 2-1. Sweet pass from Kris Versteeg to set up Martin Havlat. Blatant ESPN.com plug: CHECK OUT OUR LIVE GAMECAST!
Pierre LeBrun (1:58 p.m. ET): Joy ... always ready with facts. The Wings are really taking it now to the Hawks. You could tell yesterday from talking to the Detroit people just how much they want this. Coach Mike Babcock has had a tough time getting his team to play 60 minutes this season -- the Cup hangover -- but that won't be an issue today.
Joy Russo (1:56 p.m. ET): For those of you scoring at home, Mr. Chelios is really 46.
Scott Burnside (1:55 p.m. ET): Thought it was a nice touch by Detroit coach Mike Babcock to start 120-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios in his hometown. And the Wings tie it up on the power play. Nice segue, eh?
Pierre LeBrun (1:51 p.m. ET): You know it, Joy. Love the intensity already in this game. Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien were looking for the Red Wings to drop the gloves on the last shift. Love it! The hatred between these two teams is the bonus to this special event. It's a real game.
Joy Russo (1:49 p.m. ET): I think this is when Pierre starts making his "we need to see a fight" pitch. It's gettin' chippy out there.
Scott Burnside (1:47 p.m. ET): We've seen a couple of missed one-timers, which makes you wonder if it's the ice or nerves. But on the Wings' first power play, Henrik Zetterberg made a great move past the Blackhawks defense, so there you go. Just saw crazy bounce off the end boards that nearly cost Cristobal Huet and the Hawks.
Pierre LeBrun (1:42 p.m. ET): Hugely important opening goal by the Hawks. Gets the crowd even more energized. Gives a young team confidence after they got shut out two nights ago at Joe Louis Arena. The key moment so far in this game has to be Brent Seabrook levelling Dan Cleary over the boards and into the Hawks bench. This won't be a no-hitter like last year in Buffalo!
Joy Russo (1:38 p.m. ET): They heard you, Scotty. The game is on. As far as the conditions here, looks like the hockey gods are smiling. Overcast and no glare. 31.9 degrees was the official word at the start of the game.
Scott Burnside (1:35 p.m. ET): OK, it's 12:35 CT here and they still haven't dropped the puck. How do you think the players will feel about that, trying to stay warm?
Scott Burnside (1:35 p.m. ET): Pierre, good point. As usual. Nice that the 'Hawks have brought out some of their greats like Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull and especially former head coach Denis Savard.
Pierre LeBrun (1:31 p.m. ET): Yes, the U.S. anthem was cheered lustily by the Wrigley crowd a la Chicago Stadium. Also, I thought it was classy of the NHL and the Hawks to sing "O Canada" -- a sign of respect for the birthplace of hockey and still the country that develops the most NHLers. It's an electric atmosphere here.
Scott Burnside (1:29 p.m. ET): Agreed. Early on for me, the appearance of the Detroit coaching staff with old-style black fedoras. Too cool. And of course "The Star-Spangled Banner." Goosebumps. I think even my Canadian friend Pierre LeBrun would agree.
Joy Russo (1:27 p.m. ET): OK, boys. So, I already have one of my favorite "snapshots" from today in Chicago. Pregame warm-ups, both teams take the ice, and U2's "New Year's Day" is blaring from the speakers. (Arguably, one of the best songs ever.) This is pretty cool.