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Big Z: The fans ‘deserved to have the ‘W’ ‘

01.01.10 at 6:52 pm ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke for the entire organization when he expressed his gratitude toward the Boston fans who exploded in the final five minutes of their 2-1 overtime win at Fenway Park.

“I pointed right to them,” Chara said. “They were great. They deserve it. They probably bought their tickets a long time ago. It costs a lot of money for a lot of families. I know it’s not easy to spend the money but they did and they deserved to have the ‘W’. For sure, we owe them a lot tonight.”

Chara was asked about the thrill of playing at Fenway Park, where it’s the Red Sox who usually get fired up after the playing of Sweet Caroline.

Read More: Bruins, Zdeno Chara,

Breaking Down the Bruins’ Classic Win

01.01.10 at 4:23 pm ET
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Here is a recap of the Bruins’ 2-1 win over the Flyers in Friday’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park (for game story, click here):

Three stars:

1. Bruins ‘€“ Marco Sturm nets the game-winner 1:57 into overtime.

2. Bruins ‘€“ Mark Recchi ‘€“ The 41-year-old skated like a kid, keeping the puck alive and creating chances before crashing the net for a rebound goal to draw the Bruins even with 2:18 to play. He also played a stretch in the third with only one glove without lessening his resolve for the puck. That’€™s Winter Classic spirit.

3. Flyers – Danny Syvret ‘€“ Recalled from the AHL earlier in the week, he scores his first NHL goal, giving the Flyers a second-period lead.

Turning Point ‘€“ Trailing 1-0, the Bruins go on the power play late in the third period. Recchi scores a rebound goal tying the game and setting up the overtime heroics by Sturm.

Key stretch – With the Flyers already holding a 1-0 lead, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was whistled from tripping 10:16 into the second period. Philadelphia picked up its pressure against Tim Thomas, but the Bruins also started creating more chances. The game became more wide open, with several odd-man rushes for both teams.

Read More: danny syvret, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi,

Ice Guru: ‘Good Lord couldn’t have done better’

01.01.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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When you play an outdoor hockey game on New Year’s Day in Boston, sometimes you need some divine intervention.

The Bruins, Flyers and NHL got just that on Friday when the weather turned out perfect for the Winter Classic – and most importantly the ice at Fenway Park.

“Awesome,” NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig said of the ice. “The Good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now.”

This isn’t the first time Craig has found religion for the sake of playing an outdoor hockey game.

“Buffalo for me, was very stressful,” he said of the 2008 classic between the Sabres and Penguins. “[I was] praying that we could have a good game. Chicago [2009], with our new equipment, [I was] nervous but confident in our equipment and the crew and knowing we were going to have a good game, which we did. And today, it is a calm confidence that we are going to have an awesome, awesome day at the park.”

Many fans assume that the colder the better for the ice. Not necessarily. If it’s too cold, the ice gets too brittle. Last year at Wrigley Field the temperatures hovered in the low 20s. So the forecast for 38 degrees at face-off work well for Craig and the NHL.

“Today is different from Chicago, due to the weather and how warm it’s going to be,” Craig said. “My crew can monitor ice conditions as they’re happening on the field of play. I will be in tune with them and with the engineer on the truck because I have to make sure that the truck goes down slowly in temperature as the temperature rises outside.

“Right on target – within tenths of a degree of the target, which is 24 degrees. We’re right where we want to be.”

Read More: Bruins, Flyers, NHL, Winter Classic

Picture Gallery From Fenway Park For NHL Winter Classic

01.01.10 at 11:20 am ET
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NHL facilities operations manager Dan Craig took a final skate around the rink at Fenway at 11:20 and indicated the ice is ready for hockey at the Winter Classic. “We’re right where we want to be,” Craig said when asked about temperature of the ice. “The Good Lord couldn’t have done better for us right now.”

Courtesy of WEEI.com’s Graig Woodburn, here are pictures of the final preparations leading up to the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Friday:

Already an ‘amazing’ experience for Bruins

12.31.09 at 4:09 pm ET
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On cue, the snow, the Bruins and the excitement, arrived at the Winter Classic ice rink at Fenway Park Thursday.

And from the moment they left the locker room ‘€“ make that the dugout ‘€“ the Bruins were enjoying the moment.

‘€œIt was amazing when we walked up the stairs, the snow was coming down, seeing Fenway Park in the background,’€ center Patrice Bergeron said. ‘€œIt was amazing. A great day, a great moment, great experience for me, I’€™m just glad to be part of it.’€

After posing for a team picture – one with knits hats, one without ‘€“ the players and coaches became reacquainted with simple concept of outdoor hockey. When it snows, you shovel.

‘€œI remember when I was a kid that was my first job,’€ Bruins center Marc Savard said. ‘€œI think I was around 13 years old and shoveled the outdoor rink and opened and closed the shack.’€

Things were a little different Thursday, as pro athletes and coaches jumped into grab snow shovels, although the team’€™s young guns seemed to be handling most of the snow removal duties.

‘€œI kind of noticed that the younger guys had grabbed shovels, I figured I better help out too,’€ said rookie Adam McQuaid, obviously a quick study at the ways and means of young NHL players.

He was not alone.

‘€œI was just doing what I was told, I remember it from the old days,’€ second-year forward Blake Wheeler said. ‘€œBack in the day, when it was snowing that hard we’€™d just go inside and wait for it to clear.’€

The snow certainly added to the atmosphere inside Fenway, as did the up-tempo music and sea of fans making there way to the ‘€œFree Fan Festival’€ across the street.

Seat cushions were in place, albeit with a dusting of fresh snow. The left field scoreboard had replaced the American League East standings with those of the NHL‘€™s Northeast Division.

Home plate had been transformed into a music stage, set for James Taylor to sing the US national anthem, Daniel Powter the Canadian version and the Dropkick Murphy’€™s to punctuate the day with ‘€œI’€™m Shipping Up to Boston.’€

There was no doubt, the Winter Classic was in play.

‘€œIt’€™s crazy,’€ said Steve Begin, ‘€œIt’€™s fun. The ice was unbelievable. It was special. I haven’€™t skated in snow in a long time.’€

While the snow was fun for practice, players were in general agreement that it would not be a good thing for the game itself.

‘€œHopefully we are going to get some clear ice out there because with the snow it makes it pretty interesting,’€ Wheeler said. ‘€œIf not, that’€™s the way it is and we have to adapt to it and play the game accordingly.’€

Aside from the obvious changes from a regular NHL game, the outdoor contest presents some interesting qualities.

With Tim Thomas likely to get the starting nod in goal, Tuukka Rask could be one of the coldest players on the ice as he sits through the game. But in keeping with his usual calm approach, Rask’€™s taking it all in stride.

‘€œSomeone told me there were seat warmers and you could always drink hot chocolate,’€ said Rask. ‘€œGear up, put a tuc on and enjoy. No stress for me. If I’€™m cold, then I’€™m cold.’€

There has also never been a fight in a Winter Classic game. Former Flyers enforcer Dave ‘€œthe hammer ‘€œ Schultz, was wondering about that while skating at the rink earlier in the week.

‘€œThere’€™s never been one so at this point, I think we should try it out,’€ grinned Schultz. ‘€œFlyers and Bruins ‘€“ its gotta happen.’€

Shawn Thornton would be a potential candidate to drop the gloves for the Bruins, but he wasn’€™t expressing any interest in looking to start a brawl.

‘€œI honestly have never gone into a hockey game thinking about fighting, this is no different,’€ Thornton said while holding court in David Ortiz‘€™s locker. ‘€œI’€™m going to go play hockey as if it were any other game. If something needs to be addressed, it will be addressed. I’€™m sure it’€™s the same on the other side.’€

Fights or no fights, snow or no snow, when all was said and done there was little doubt the Bruins were enjoying the experience.

‘€œIt’€™s great, it’€™s awesome,’€ said center David Krejci. ‘€œI can’€™t wait to go out there tomorrow and see 35,000 people cheering for you and being excited about the game.’€

Drop the puck.

Photos from Fenway on the eve of the Winter Classic

12.31.09 at 11:55 am ET
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Courtesy of WEEI.com’s Graig Woodburn, some photos of this morning’s preparations at Fenway Park for the NHL’s 2010 Winter Classic:

Read More: Fenway Park, Winter Classic,

Getting ready for a Classic

12.31.09 at 9:38 am ET
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