Montreal Canadiens Beat Boston Bruins in 2016 Winter Classic

A recent innovation in the National Hockey League that is proving to be very popular is the annual Winter Classic game.  The Winter Classic has been played on New Year’s Day or January 2nd since its inception in 2008 and is has become a celebration of hockey, combining the game of today with the roots of hockey when it was played outside.  The Winter Classic is played in a football or baseball stadium; past venues include Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and Michigan Stadium, home of the Michigan Wolverines.  Last year’s Classic was held at Nationals Park in Washington DC, with the Washington Capitals beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.

The games have been very popular with fans (the game at enormous Michigan Stadium drew over 105,000 to Ann Arbor) and are televised nationally in the U.S. and Canada.  The league tries to schedule an attractive matchup for this showcase game, and this year was no exception with the Montreal Canadiens facing off New Year’s Day 2016 against the Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the New England Patriots.

It’s a very tight race in the Atlantic Division; going into the game, the Florida Panthers were in the lead with 46 points, followed by Montreal with 45 and Boston with 44.  Montreal exploded out of the gate this season and were in first place with a record of 18-4-2 on November 27th but were just 3-12 since then, and the rest of the division caught up.  Part of that was due to the absence of goalie Carey Price who was 10-2 with a 2.06 goals against average and a .934 save percentage when he suffered a lower body injury on November 25th and has been out ever since.  Rookie Mike Condon, Price’s backup, was thrust into the starting role.  Condon has had some big skates to fill, and has done a credible job.  He was 10-9-3 coming into the game; his backups are only 1-4 with a goals against average over 3.

Condon is a Massachusetts native, and many of his friends and family were in attendance on the cold, overcast day that featured snow flurries later in the game.  The 25 year old was at his best and made 28 saves as Montreal routed the Bruins 5-1.  Paul Byron scored two goals for the Canadiens, who moved back into first place with a one point lead over idle Florida.

This was the first appearance in the Winter Classic for Montreal, and the second for the Bruins.  Boston won the 2010 Classic in Fenway Park 2-1 in overtime over the Philadelphia Flyers.

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