Mendes: Momentum from winning outdoor games no guarantee

Ian Mendes
3/4/2014 12:03:38 PM
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After winning Sunday's Heritage Classic game in Vancouver, there is a sense that perhaps the Senators can use that victory as a springboard down the stretch.

One would think that winning one of the NHL's signature events – with 50,000 fans watching in the stadium and a larger-than-normal television audience – could propel this team onto a much-needed winning streak.

But looking at the brief history of these events, there is hardly any connection between winning an outdoor game and any subsequent success in the NHL. A few years ago, the 2008 Penguins and the 2009 Red Wings each made it to the Stanley Cup Final in the same year after winning the Winter Classic game – although that was more likely the result of having a powerhouse lineup than anything to do with playing in an outdoor game.

For the Senators, a better comparable would be to look at some of the less dominant teams that have won an outdoor game and how that affected them immediately afterwards. This season, for example, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor – but then turned around and lost their next four games.

In 2011, the Calgary Flames beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in the Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium. The Flames ended up losing three of their next five games, so any momentum they gained from winning the outdoor game was non-existent. The same can be said for the 2003-04 Montreal Canadiens, who beat the Edmonton Oilers in the first-ever outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium. The Habs managed to win only two of their next five games – although they did manage a pair of ties as well.

This season, we even saw the Anaheim Ducks stumble after winning the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium against the Los Angeles Kings. The Ducks lost four of their next five games – marking their worst stretch of the regular season. The same thing happened to the 2010 Boston Bruins and the 2011 Washington Capitals – each team lost four of their next five games after winning the Winter Classic. So in many cases, it seems like teams suffer a letdown – rather than an uplift – following a big win in an outdoor game.

Here's a look at how every team that has won an outdoor game fared in their next 5 games:

2003-04 Montreal Canadiens – Won Heritage Classic 4-3 at Edmonton
Next 5 games: 2-1-2 record

2007-08 Pittsburgh Penguins – Won Winter Classic 2-1 at Buffalo
Next 5 games: 4-1-0 record

2008-09 Detroit Red Wings – Won Winter Classic 6-4 at Chicago
Next 5 games: 4-1-0 record

2009-10 Boston Bruins– Won Winter Classic 2-1 at Boston
Next 5 games: 1-4-0 record

2010-11 Washigton Capitals – Won Winter Classic 3-1 at Pittsburgh
Next 5 games: 1-2-2 record

2010-11 Calgary Flames – Won Heritage Classic 4-0 at Calgary
Next 5 games: 2-2-1 record

2011-12 New York Rangers – Won Winter Classic 3-2 at Philadelphia
Next 5 games: 4-1-0 record

2013-14 Toronto Maple Leafs – Won Winter Classic 3-1 at Ann Arbor
Next 5 games – 1-4-0 record

2013-14 Anaheim Ducks – Won Stadium Series 3-0 at Los Angeles
Next 5 games – 1-4-0 record

2013-14 NY Rangers – Swept Stadium Series 7-3 (Devils) and 2-1 (Islanders) at New York
Next 5 games: 4-1-0 record

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