Winter Classic, Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins: 3 Things to watch

The Montreal Canadiens could get a boost to their line up while the Bruins will be without several key players as hockey's greatest rivalry plays out its latest chapter on the biggest stage in the game at the Winter Classic.

Here are three things to watch for.

Gallagher returns

Not much positive has happened for the Habs since Brendan Gallagher when down with a hand injury on Nov. 22. Since Gallagher broke his hand blocking a Johnny Boychuk slap shot, Montreal's scoring has dried up and so has the team's ability to win. With Gallagher in the line up, Montreal's record is 16-4-2 but without him it's 5-11-1. On Dec. 31, the Habs announced he'll return to action and play in the Winter Classic.

Gallagher practised in Brossard on Wednesday. Watch to see how much of an impact Gallagher will have in his first game game back. Will his hand be 100 per cent? How much will his presence help Montreal's struggling offence? 

Depleted Bruins

The Bruins will be without super-pest Brad Marchand for the Winter Classic. Marchand was suspended three games for a dangerous low hit on Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki on Tuesday night. Borowiecki wasn't injured on the play but it was the kind of behaviour that has no place in today's NHL, Marchand certainly deserved to be suspended. Marchand has made it a habit in his career of hitting opponents low, so much so that he's been suspended for lower-body infractions three times before.

This most recent hit cost him $164,634 in salary in but it also cost him the unique opportunity to play in the Winter Classic and that is something money can't replace. Additionally, the Bruins be without one if their top offensive threats, David Krecji for the classic. Krecji was hurt during a game earlier this week and was placed on injured reserve on Monday.  

Condon comes home

The Winter Classic is a special game for all players but for Habs goalie Mike Condon it is also a home coming. He grew up in the Boston area and certainly will have a large cheering section behind him for the game. Condon credits his family for supporting him throughout his hockey career which until recently didn't appear like it would reach the NHL.

Condon played his college puck at Princeton and wasn't really on the NHL's radar until he worked his way on a minor league team in the ECHL, fought his way into the AHL, earned a contract with the Canadiens and outduelled Dustin Tokarski for the job to back-up Carey Price. When he arrived in Montreal this season he admitted that his father Ted was a die-hard Bruins fans. Of course, Ted has softened to the idea of cheering for the Habs now that his son playing for them.