Montgomery: Winter Classic is 'Super Bowl' of NHL's regular season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
There won't be a special trophy presentation Monday afternoon after the Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are done playing the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The winner will receive the same two points any team would earn following a regular season victory.
And yet this type of event is not just a normal regular season game. It's much more than that, actually.
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These games are highly competitive and, while the experience is memorable for everyone involved regardless of the final score, winning makes it all so much sweeter.
"No, it's not (just another game). To me, being fortunate to be part of it last year, this is the Super Bowl of the NHL in the regular season," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said Sunday after his team's practice at Fenway Park.
"We all know the Stanley Cup is the end all be all for the NHL, but it's a magnificent moment. I remember last year, there was one point when 'Living on a Prayer' was going through the stadium and I was like, this is what it must feel like to be Jon Bon Jovi. It's a special moment for us and it's a special game, and no way is it just another regular season game."
Even though the Bruins are mostly a veteran team, Montgomery sees the Winter Classic as a way for his group to gain even more experience in high-pressure games that attract a lot of attention.
"I think what it allows us to do is we've talked a lot about playing in the moment, next shift, control what you can control and be very process oriented," Montgomery said.
"This can mimic a playoff game, or maybe going down the stretch having to win a game to win first place. This allows us to prepare mentally for moments like that, that we hope lie ahead for us."
Montgomery is not a Winter Classic rookie. He was an assistant coach for the St. Louis Blues when they defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-4 at Target Field last season. But it's his first time as a head coach in this event and his first time being part of a hockey game at Fenway Park.
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Montgomery's first word when asked to describe the scene at the ballpark Sunday was "unreal".
"Words that come to mind are thankful and gratitude, just because you're in Fenway Park and you're thinking about how many people have dreamt about being in the middle of the diamond, and here we are getting an opportunity to be part of the Winter Classic," Montgomery said.
"I think about my boys and what it would've meant to me at their age to be able to have this kind of experience, it's incredible. I'm very fortunate."
In addition to the spectacle and pageantry of the Winter Classic, the play on the ice should provide fans with plenty of entertainment. This is a matchup featuring multiple future Hall of Famers on both sides and plenty of players who've won the Stanley Cup. There's a lot of high-end offensive talent on these rosters, making it an ideal matchup to showcase the excitement of professional hockey.
"I think it's a great game to show off what the NHL is all about," Montgomery said. "You have stars who've done so much in the league. You have young budding stars. You have the speed of the game. Both teams like to play fast and make plays. I think it's going to be a great event with two teams that right now are in playoff positions and (people) expect to see come spring time."