As you recuperate from your New Year Eve's activities, make sure you mix a little puck in with your collegiate pigskin.
For the eighth time since 2008, the NHL is holding its Winter Classic on (or near) New Yearís Day (it was held on Jan. 2 in 2012).
This year, the much anticipated game pits the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins. The two Original Six teams will clash at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. So get ready for some deflated pucks! (Too soon?)
This will be the second time for Bruins in the Winter Classic (in 2010, they succumbed to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime) and the second time the State of Massachusetts has hosted one of the NHLís biggest events. In 2010, the Winter Classic was played at Fenway Park in Boston.
The Winter Classic is one of the few opportunities fans have to see the game of hockey as it was originally played, outside and in the elements. Historically, the Winter Classic has showcased competitive tilts. Of the seven Winter Classics played, two ended in a shootout, one in overtime, and two others were decided by a single goal. The remaining two games were decided by two goals.
The upcoming Winter Classic will be the last time until 2018 that the game will be played on New Year's Day. In 2017, the Winter Classic will be played on Monday Jan. 2. The NFL owns Sunday even if it falls on a holiday.
One of the biggest talking points leading up to the Winter Classic is what the players are going to wear. Franchises usually break out some sort of special jerseys to not only commemorate the special event but to sell online and in team stores. This year is no different. Both the Canadiens and Bruins have revealed new throwback togs for the upcoming classic.
The Canadiens will be wearing a white jersey with red on the collar and on the bottom cuff. On the chest is a white C and inside that is a red H. Both are on a wide swath of blue thatís bordered by thin red stripes.
The blue used on the chest stripe is taken from the team's first jersey worn in 1909. The white C and red H (opposite of what they've been for the past 90 years) is a homage to the 1924 team that captured the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup. On the sleeve is a globe. That globe was worn when the Montreal Canadiens began their heated rivalry with the Boston Bruins.
As for the Bruins, they used a design from their 1924 inaugural season but employed their current color scheme of black and gold.
That original design features the word Boston with a large B and N curved over a brown-colored bear. Underneath the bear, in black lettering on a yellow background, is the word Bruins. There are two gold stripes on each sleeve and one near the bottom of the jersey. The majority of the sweater is black.
The jersey was designed by Reebok. Both jerseys have larger-than-normal arm numbers. Obviously, these big digits will help fans and announcers identity players in the vastness of an outdoor arena.
Canadiens vs. Bruins
So we know what the teams will be wearing. How will they be playing?
The 2016 Winter Classic pits two teams going in opposite directions. In many ways, the Canadiens, in terms of results and expectations, are what the Bruins were at the start of the decade.
The Canadiens are one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They are the defending Atlantic Division champions and have posted 100 points in each of the last two seasons. The Bruins on the other hand missed the postseason last year for the first time since the 2006-2007 campaign.
The Canadiens are led by one of the best goalies in the league, Carey Price (won Vezina and Hart Trophies last season), captain Max Pacioretty, and top five defenseman P.K. Subban.
The Bruins are led by the overworked Tuukka Rask, the aging Zdeno Chara, and superstars Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
Boston's Defensive Woes
Those aforementioned stars are surrounded by a bunch of question marks. Most pundits agree, even if those question marks are positively answered, you're still looking at a wild card team.
The biggest question mark for the Bruins is their defense. Chara turns 39 in March and has been injury prone. Stud defenseman Dougie Hamilton was shipped to Calgary in the offseason and not properly replaced. Stalwart blueliner, Dennis Siedenberg, is likely to miss the first two months of the season thanks to back surgery.
Rask is a wall between the pipes but was overworked last year. He played an amazing 70 games. For the Bruins to reach the postseason in 2016 that can't happen again.
Not only will the Bruins need to pick up their defense but theyíll need the newly acquired Matt Beleskey to step up and give the team some secondary scoring. Last year, with the Anaheim Ducks, Beleskey netted 22 goals in 65 games.
The Bruins fired general manager Peter Chiarelli on April 15, 2015. He was replaced by Don Sweeney. Head coach Claude Julien begins the year on the hot seat, and if things go poorly, the Bruins might have a new coach come the Winter Classic.
Canadiens Must Score
There are a lot of good teams in the Eastern Conferences which makes the road to the Stanley Cup Finals difficult for the Canadiens. That's especially true if they have to play the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season, including the playoffs, the Canadiens were 2-9 against the 'Ning. And it was Tampa Bay who ousted Les Canadiens from the postseason.
To push the Canadiens over the top, they signed sniper Alexander Semin to a one-year deal worth just over $1 million. Despite having a terrible 2014-2015 season in Carolina, Montreal is hoping the 31-year-old forward can contribute on the power play.
Goals (or lack thereof) will probably be the reason why the Grand Club hoists or doesnít hoist Lord Stanley's Cup come June. Last season, they were the best at stopping teams from scoring but 11th in finding the back of the net.
If the Habs can light up the scoreboard with regularity they should win their first Stanley Cup since 1993. They will definitely win the 2016 Winter Classic.