NHL Winter Classic: Why Habs/Bruins Work So Well


Jul 29, 2015; Foxboro, MA, USA; A Winter Classic puck rests on the net after a press conference for the Winter Classic hockey game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to recent years, all of us hockey fans and enthusiasts will have the pleasure to be treated to  yet another New Years Day NHL Winter Classic in 2016. While the champagne and late-night parties will be all the norm on December 31st, we have been dealt a tasty match-up that will no doubt provide some fireworks in itself on the first day of the new year. The NHL officially announced last week that the Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens at none other than Gillette Stadium, being the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. While the previous years’ tilts were historic in their own right, this upcoming Winter Classic has the elements to be a great game for the history books. Why you may ask? Well here are some reasons why this Bruins/Canadiens outdoors game is not one to miss.

A New Chapter in the Boston-Montreal Rivalry

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  • Not does each team have a strong history, as both are part of the illustrious Original Six, but the grueling, gritty rivalry (maybe even hatred) these two teams have developed over the years has provided us fans with some great hockey. The clubs have butted heads in a total of 906 contests across the regular and post-season dating back to 1924, and while Montreal upholds the winning side of the grudge with an all-time record of 452–342–103–9, the Bruins have had some success coming out the victors over the Canadiens in both the recent 2009 and 2011 conference quarter-finals series between the two teams.

    As far as leaving their mark (sometimes literally) in the rivalry, both clubs have certainly provided some memories. Who could forget the brawl between goaltenders Carey Price and Tim Thomas back in 2011, or the hit by Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty just a month afterwards.

    It will be interesting to see what the new outdoor element can bring to this rivalry. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say we can expect a hard fought, tough-as-nails game between the two sides. It also won’t hurt that thousands upon thousands of fans will be in on the jeering and chirping in the stands.

    The (Carey) Price Is Right

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    Price was the recipient of four trophies at the end of last season, yes it’s safe to say he stole the show. The NHL planners have most definitely used this to their advantage, and will continue to do so with the promotional elements of the Winter Classic. The last time Price laced up in an outdoor games dates back to the Heritage Classic hosted in Calgary in 2011. Ultimately the Canadiens fell short losing 4-0 to the Flames and Price put up a disappointing SV% of 0.891 , so it will be interesting to see if standout goaltender can contribute a better showing this go around.

    Out With The Old, In With The New In Beantown

    There is no question about it, the Bruins have been one of the teams that have undergone a reformation this offseason. The team shipped longtime Bruin Milan Lucic out West to L.A., traded highly-touted prospect Dougie Hamilton to Calgary and dealt budding winger Reilly Smith to sunny Florida. While the pieces they got in return will undoubtedly help the team down the road, it will be interesting to see where the team is at come the NHL Winter Classic. Will highly-praised Matt Beleskey be able to replicate his breakout season? How will acquired Matt Irvin and Jimmy Hayes fit into the picture? NHL correspondent Matt Kalman caught up with Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins, and this is what the assistant captain had to say when speaking about the outdoor game,

    "“I like it, I’m up for it. I think it’s a great challenge and I guess it breaks down a little bit of the season as well, kind of being midway through. It’s great.”"

    While Bergeron seems ecstatic about the opportunity, the Bruins did fail to miss the playoffs last season for the first time in eight seasons, and this questions where the team will be at come January 1st. Regardless, it is a widely- watched nationally broadcasted game that allows fans across the continent and beyond to see the “new” Black and Gold in action.

    So mark the date down on your calendar, as I know I will be. Excitement seems to follow the Winter Classic series, as no Classic game played has ended in more than a 2 point differential, with three out of seven games going into extra time. Plain and simple, don’t waste the opportunity to watch great hockey in the making.

    Next: Each Canadian NHL Market's Chances of Winning The Cup

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