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2010 Winter Classic

The Flyers-Bruins Winter Classic Was One to Remember

The NHL launched the Winter Classic in 2008, and the first two games were a big hit with the fans. Could the league keep up the momentum? The short answer is yes. The 2010 game featured the visiting Philadelphia Flyers and the home team Boston Bruins — two Eastern Conference teams with an intense rivalry. The 2010 NHL Winter Classic had all of the tradition and atmosphere of the preceding events, plus a couple of new twists: a home-team victory and the most exciting game yet.

Another Incredible Venue for the Bruins-Flyers Winter Classic

After playing at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in 2009, the NHL had its work cut out for it to come up with a more storied venue. Mission accomplished. The Boston Bruins’ Winter Classic would be played in none other than Fenway Park, America’s oldest MLB stadium — and a place with perhaps an even grander history than venerable Wrigley. Played in the shadow of the Green Monster, in front of a packed house of almost 40,000, the game won the hearts of hockey and baseball fans alike.

Tucked in an old Boston neighborhood (similar to Wrigley being in the heart of a Chicago community), Fenway opened in 1912 and has been the Boston Red Sox’s home field ever since. In addition to hosting baseball games, Fenway had been used over the years for concerts, boxing matches, soccer, football and even snowboarding — but never hockey. The 2010 Classic would be the first hockey game ever played at Fenway, and the success of the game set the stage for the park to host other hockey games in the years that have followed.

The Matchup: Two Teams That Just Hadn’t Gotten Along

As of October 2018, the Bruins and Flyers had played each other nearly 200 times in the regular season alone, with the Bruins having the edge, 106-69-21. Boston, an Original Six franchise, has been playing the Flyers since the latter joined the league in 1967. During the 1970s, both teams had reputations for being tough and nasty: it was the Big Bad Bruins versus the Broad Street Bullies. The teams met in the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1976, 1977 and 1978, with the Flyers winning the first series and Boston taking the next two. The next time these teams would meet in the semis was 2010. The Winter Classic fans didn’t know it, but the game would be a prelude for this historic Stanley Cup playoffs reunion.

The Game: A Nail-biter

The Flyers and Bruins Winter Classic teams were evenly matched, as the game would show. The Flyers had a solid roster including Scott Hartnell, Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux. Boston’s lineup included the imposing Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and goalie Tim Thomas. After honorary team captains Bobby Clarke and Bobby Orr met for the ceremonial puck drop — in balmy 40-degree weather — the game got underway.

The first period, appropriate for Fenway, was a “pitchers’ duel,” with neither team scoring. The Flyers’ Danny Syvret broke the ice (so to speak) with a goal 4:42 into the second period to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead — the first goal of his career. That’s the way it stayed until 17:42 into the third period, when the Bruins’ Mark Recchi — an ex-Flyer — scored a power play goal to tie it up 1-1.

For the second time in three games, an NHL Winter Classic was going into overtime. In the extra session, Thomas was forced to make a number of tough saves against Philadelphia’s powerful offense. Finally, with almost two minutes gone in OT, the Bruins’ Marco Sturm tipped one in past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, with assists from Bergeron and Chara.

Final score, 2-1, Boston Bruins.

And Then …

The Winter Classic was a big hit again for the NHL, with 3.7 million TV viewers and a Fenway Park-full of fans getting treated to the game of their lives. It was the biggest matchup for Boston and Philadelphia since their 1978 playoff series, won by Boston.

Although Boston took the Classic, the teams would meet again in the playoffs later that season, and the outcome would be different. In a rollicking, back-and-forth series, the relentless Flyers prevailed in seven games, after being down 3 games to none. The Flyers were only the fourth team in major U.S. sports to make such a comeback.