The NHL had an amazing event to kick off the new year of 2016: one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports, the Boston Bruins versus the Montréal Canadiens, except with one little change. The rivalry was taken outdoors as Gillette Stadium’s turf — home to the New England Patriots — was converted to an ice rink for the 2016 Winter Classic. It was the eighth year that the NHL has held an outdoor game on January 1st.
The hype to the game was a very strong. Two rivals who dislike each other playing outdoors is intriguing not just to hockey fans but to sports fans in general. The game itself, though, was a bit of a disappointment. Obviously everyone watching wanted to see a great game but on this given day, one team was just significantly better than the other. The Montréal Canadiens outshot the Bruins 14 to 3 in the first period, giving them a two goal lead going into the second period. The Canadiens then expanded on that lead by scoring a third goal. David Desharnais, Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher accounted for the three Habs goals.
The Bruins showed some life after a goal by Boston forward Matt Beleskey, making the score 3-1. The worst lead in hockey is known to be a two goal lead because the leader feels comfortable but it can disappear very quickly. But poor Boston defense led to another Paul Byron goal in the third period. Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty put the nail on the coffin by scoring another goal with only 3 minutes left to play, making it 5-1.
Despite the high number of goals, it was the defense rather than the goal tending that was to blame for this loss. The Bruins also had few shots on net. Still, several Bruins players like Ryan Spooner expressed how great it was to play in the Winter Classic regardless of the outcome.
The Bruins sit in fourth place in the Atlantic division, three points away from the Canadiens and six points away from the division-leading Florida Panthers. Hopefully the next time Boston faces off against Montreal, there’s a better fight from the Bruins because the Canadiens not only dominated the Winter Classic, but dominated the Bruins.