The Bridgestone Winter Classic has already been played in a ballpark, with the 2009 version being played in historic Wrigley Field. But while Wrigley offered plenty of history and tradition, many — including the man in charge of converting Fenway Park into a hockey rink — believe Fenway will be even better than Wrigley.
"I think the first thing you notice is that it's smaller," NHL facility operations manager — better known as "The Ice Man" Dan Craig — said. "There isn't much room between the stands and the infield. You look out in left field and along the third-base line, and those fans are going to be right on top of you. We didn't have that at Wrigley because it was just wider, bigger. This will be pretty cool with the fans on top of you like that."
Of course, the other major difference that makes Fenway so unique is the Green Monster, and Craig and his NHL crew are looking forward to seeing the Monster hovering over the event.
"Well, that's just it right there," Craig said. "We never had something like that, and that will look so cool on TV. It's a great, unique back drop and setting."
The Flyers are protecting the net closest to the Monster, and they're ready to be heckled and booed.
"I'm sure they will be giving it to us," Flyers forward Claude Giroux said. "They're right there, so it's going to be really fun and loud. I've never played in front of this many people, and I'm just really excited."
Giroux grew up in Northern Ontario and went to Blue Jays games growing up. He realizes that the Rogers Centre — formerly the SkyDome — has nothing on Fenway Park when it comes to mystique and history, and he's looking forward to becoming part of Fenway's history in the first-ever hockey game played on the hallowed grounds.
"I took in a lot of Blue Jays games, but that place is nothing like this," he said. "This is really cool. The Green Monster and all the history here, the fans on top of you like this. I can't wait."
So will Giroux and his teammates be shooting at the Monster and trying to rifle some pucks up to the fans?
"Oh, yeah, maybe not me with my shot, but there's some guys here that can do that for sure," he said. "That will be really fun. We'll have to do that in warmups."
Of course, the hometown team is pretty pumped up as well, and after watching the replays of the previous two Winter Classics a lot this month, they're convinced this will be the best one yet.
"All the history in this place, and then to play in front of a packed house like this, I've never played in front of a crowd this big, and it is going to be special," Bruins center Marc Savard said. "I've seen the games on TV and been watching them a lot lately because they've been playing them on NHL Network, and this looks like the fans will be a lot closer than in those previous games. So it's going to be almost like a regular arena with the fans right on top of you."
Savard also said that the Bruins would be aiming for the Green Monster, too.
"How can you not want to try that?" he asked. "That is just another awesome part of playing here. I don't think I can do it, but maybe 'Z' [Zdeno Chara] can get it up there with that shot of his."
Forward Daniel Paille played in the first Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, but he recognizes that this year's edition will be a very different experience.
"This is much different from the game in Buffalo because the fans are closer and right on top of you," he said. "This is really cool. … I can't wait to get out there.
If anything is certain, it's that Paille is not alone.
NESN.com's James Murphy will be answering one Winter Classic question every day in December. Tuesday, Dec. 15: What are the Flyers' thoughts on playing at Fenway Park?
Sunday, Dec. 13: Who is Dan "The Ice Man" Craig?
Tuesday, Dec. 15: What are the Flyers' thoughts on playing at Fenway Park?