BOSTON — Remember a few years back when Tom Brady urged fans to “start drinking early” before a late-afternoon New England Patriots game? Brad Marchand hopes they follow that same advice this Friday.
Marchand’s Boston Bruins will invade the House That Brady Built for the 2016 Winter Classic, set for New Year’s Day at Gillette Stadium.
The close-to-70,000-seat football venue is nearly twice the size of Fenway Park, where the Bruins played their last outdoor game in 2010, and Marchand is expecting a rowdy atmosphere.
“I mean, we’ve (played on national TV) plenty of times,” the winger said Tuesday morning. “It’s not really any different. But it will be a fun experience just being out there in the Pats’ stadium and having that many people there watching the game. I’m sure everyone will be a little tipsy after the tailgate parties. It will be fun to kind of experience that and see what the Pats play in front of all the time, so we’re definitely excited about it.”
The Winter Classic is the NHL’s marquee regular-season event, but the participants in this season’s edition — the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens — should make for an even greater spectacle. The Original Six rivals have met 732 times in the regular season — the most meetings between any two franchises — plus another 177 times in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I think the hype is a lot more, just because of the history that we have,” Marchand said. “But the game itself is just another game. I don’t think it really matters who we play, we’re going to prepare the same way and play the same way. But I think for the fans and the excitement building up to it, there’s definitely a lot more behind it.”
First place in the Atlantic Division also could be on the line when the B’s and Habs meet outdoors in Foxboro, Mass. Montreal entered Tuesday as the division leader, with Boston sitting just three points out of the top spot.
“The rivalry is definitely there,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. “The history around the teams is there. The standings speak for themselves, so it’s going to be a big game.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images