NHL Keeps Winter Classic Spice with Boston-Montreal Rivalry

Just as you think outdoor hockey games have jumped the shark, the NHL keeps us interested and suckered in every January 1. Earlier this week the league announced the eighth edition of the New Year’s Day game, with Boston becoming the first two-time host. Boston will take on what’s widely considered their most heated rival: Montreal.

Boston’s other appearance was in 2010, where they defeated Philadelphia 2-1 in overtime at Fenway Park. Montreal has played in other outdoor games (Heritage Classic) but they become the second Canadian-based team to play in the Winter Classic, following Toronto in 2014. This year’s game will take place at 68,000-seat Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. Puck drop is set for 1:00 p.m. EST.

“After more than nine decades and more than 900 regular-season or playoff games between these great rivals, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will add to the legend of their competition in a unique way,” National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We couldn’t be happier that our third Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® between ‘Original Six’ teams will take place at Gillette Stadium, home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.”

The Bruins and Canadiens have faced off 729 times during the regular season, tied with Detroit and Chicago for the most head-to-head meetings by any two teams in league history. The177 head-to-head playoff games and 34 postseason series between the two also are the most in League history. They have battled in nine Game 7s leading all teams in the North American major professional sports (includes MLB, NBA and NHL).

It’s also noted that the stadium is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, where 1,500 seats were removed from the south endzone in favor of a premium upscale indoor/outdoor lounge with memberships costing $1,500 in addition to the price of Patriots season tickets. It should be interesting to see how that space will be used considering the nearest net is 30+ yards away and you’re below eye level with the rink platform and boards obstructed.

Four players remain on the Bruins from 2010, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron. They’ll face Carey Price in goal, who won both the Hart and Vezina Trophies this past season.

I don’t know what you think, but I’m looking more forward to the alumni game (like I did with Detroit and Toronto) than the actual Winter Classic itself. That game will take place the day before, Thursday December 31. It could also be like 2014, where there were so many players who wanted to play that a second game had to be staged.


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