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Thinking of the Winter Classic

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins -- This year’s Bridgestone Winter Classic won’t feature the Boston Bruins, but hockey fans from around the world will tune in to an exciting contest between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, held at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- the home of MBL's Philadelphia Phillies.

The Bruins squared off with the Flyers back in 2010, and the B’s emerged with a 2-1 overtime victory on the heels of Marco Sturm's goal at 1:57 of the extra session.

Fourteen players from the 2010 team are still with the Bruins, but only Daniel Paille has skated in two Winter Classics.

Paille suited up for the Sabres in the inaugural Winter Classic, and recorded an assist in the 2-1 shootout loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The left wing, who joined the B’s in 2009-10, also skated in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

“They were similar, but somewhat different, too,” explained Paille. “In Buffalo, I played in the football stadium...and it snowed completely that day.

"It wasn’t as cold as it was in Boston, but it was still windy. One thing you had to do for both games, you have to prepare for the weather – it does get cold out there.
"It’s important that you keep yourself warm throughout.”

“The Buffalo game was a low scoring game,” added Paille. “There were plenty of chances, so I think it worked in the advantages of the goaltenders, where the puck was moving slower than normal.

"I think that part of the fun of having outdoor game was because it could go either way.”

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas talked about the slight disadvantages for the goalies, but said that the nice weather in Boston helped him out.

“We ended up getting lucky and had beautiful weather, but the biggest challenge for a goaltender is the different lighting,” Thomas said of his win in Fenway Park. “We had a little bit of snow, so there was a little bit of the puck slowing own.

"But it wasn’t that much of a change for me. It was incredibly fun.”

The NHL’s Heritage Classic, which was played in 2003 and last season, is another outdoor game similar to the Winter Classic.

Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot skated for Montreal in last year’s Heritage Classic in Calgary, and in 2003, the Habs were lead to a 4-3 win in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium over the Oilers under their then Head Coach Claude Julien, who also guided the B’s to their own Winter Classic victory.

“You want to try and make it as close as you can to the regular season, and it isn’t,” said Julien of his preparation for both contests. “The excitement of the players doing something different and the whole build up around it creates a big stir.”

Like Paille’s, Julien talked about the drastic differences in temperatures from his first and second outdoors game.

“The first time was extremely cold – cold to the point where guys where going out there for 20, 25 seconds and were coming off because they were having a hard time breathing. The game at Fenway was a lot better, the temperature was more manageable.”

“There’s nothing better than to win a hockey game,” Julien added. “You can talk about it in a real positive way because of that.

"We won [at Fenway] in overtime, it was a great ending.”

---Anthony Gulizia
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