These two teams met a little over a month ago, a 4-2 win for Montreal. How have things changed for the Habs since then?
Well, Carey Price returned from injury... and then got hurt again. On a serious note, though, they also lost Brendan Gallagher who was on their first line and there has been a revolving door of players called up and changes to every line on the team. I'd argue the team has missed Gallagher more than Price so far.
It looks like there will be a new first line as Max Pacioretty will be playing with Alex Galchenyuk and Sven Andrighetto, who has replaced Alex Semin quite nicely. Alexei Emelin has also returned from injury and we all know he has a reputation of stepping up in games between the two teams.
The team also has Christian Thomas, Daniel Carr and Charles Hudon up from the American Hockey League and you should expect at least two to be taking part in tonight's game, probably on the fourth line.
The Canadiens are still in first place and are still winning more than they are losing which is a good thing when you're missing the league's top goaltender and MVP.
Your goalie is a native of Massachusetts, which must be a huge honor for the team. How has Mike Condon performed in Carey Price's absence?
As much of an honour as you guys having Quebec-born Patrice Bergeron, I'd gather. Condon has been good. The biggest problem for Condon in the eyes of many is that he's not Carey Price.
He's not as technically sound, and when you're used to watching Price 60-70 times a year, you notice that Condon moves around more, and he's not always the most graceful. That's fine when he's making saves but when you lose 3-2, it's not always the greatest time to not be Carey Price.
Is that fair to Condon? Absolutely not. But I think a big portion of the fan base is more confident in him than they would have been with any backup in the Carey Price era. And they should be.
What's the level of excitement like in Montreal surrounding the Winter Classic? Are many fans planning on making the trip down?
There's definite excitement, but I think most of it will come as we approach the game. I know of many people making the trip down from Montreal or other places where there are Canadiens fans. Personally, it keeps hitting me that the team is going to be on that stage and it's exciting.
The excitement level is muted by the fact that the game isn't here, but you see a lot of people wearing the winter classic hats. This is the third outdoor game the Canadiens will be playing after the first Heritage Classic vs Edmonton in 2003 and the 2011 version against Calgary.
Personally, I feel more of a buzz surrounding this one and it is a lot more similar to 2003. Of course, that 2011 one is almost pushed completely out of my head. I don't even remember watching that one.
Let's face it, Canadiens fans like when the team gets attention and you definitely will have that coming with 24/7 and the spotlight that New Year's Day brings.
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