No matter what team you root for, this is pretty much the best time of year to be a hockey fan. The holiday season is wrapping up, so we can now turn our full attention to the incredible amounts of hockey being played on any given evening.
Those of us who may be more inclined to spend New Year’s Eve on the couch instead of the dance floor will be able to flip between the 13 NHL games scheduled to be played this evening. Tomorrow, we can sip our mimosas while watching the Bruins take on the Blackhawks in the 26th annual outdoor Winter Classic, which will be played at Notre Dame Stadium this year.
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) December 30, 2018
The odds to snag a W are most definitely in the Bruins’ favor. Chicago (15-20-6) comes into the Winter Classic with a dismal 0-3-0 record in past appearances, while the B’s (21-14-4) are 1-1-0, including their 2010 win over Philadelphia at Fenway. The Winter Classic counts as a regular season game, so getting the win in front of the anticipated crowd of 74,000 matters in more ways than bragging rights.
Dustin Byfuglien went down with a lower-body injury during Winnipeg’s game against Minnesota on Saturday and was subsequently placed on the IR. It doesn’t look like Byfuglien is expected to be back before the all-star break. This is a major hit for the Jets, as Byfuglien ranks among the most effective defenders in the league.
Prior to the team’s post-holiday road trip, Montreal goaltender Carey Price was placed on injured reserve after struggling to bounce back from a lower-body injury. Price’s .904 save percentage and 2.84 GAA is nothing to sneeze at, so the Habs will hope to see Price ready to come back after the team returns home to Montreal.
Charlie McAvoy will be missing his first Winter Classic opportunity, according to Bruce Cassidy during today’s pre-event press conference. The Bruins defenseman suffered a lower-body injury just a few weeks after returning from an almost-two month absence and will need a little more time to recover before returning to the ice.
However, Brad Marchand, who was a potential scratch going into Tuesday’s practice, is slated to play after a quick recovery from an upper-body injury. This game will hold special meaning for Marchand as his first Winter Classic; he was suspended during the Bruins’ last appearance in 2016 for a low and late hit against Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki.
Play of the Period
In case you forgot how naturally this game comes to Connor McDavid, here’s a reminder.
Media credit: South Bend Tribune