(Reuters) - The Boston Bruins are confident they can cope with a depleted lineup on Friday when they become the first team to host the Winter Classic for a second time, in a matchup with longtime rivals the Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins will be without injured Czech center David Krejci and suspended forward Brad Marchand for the showpiece outdoor contest at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the National Football League’s New England Patriots.
“It’s about everyone stepping up and helping out in whatever way possible,” Bruins All-Star center Patrice Bergeron told reporters after team practice on Thursday.
“It’s about playing your game and not trying to do too much, trying to be somebody you’re not. The guys that are stepping up to replace David and Brad are great players to do the job, and that’s how we have to approach it.”
Krejci suffered an upper-body injury against the Ottawa Senators and has already missed one game while Marchand was suspended on Wednesday for three games because of a clip on Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki the previous day.
In their absence, left-shooting forward Loui Eriksson has moved to Bergeron’s left side in Marchand’s usual spot while Seth Griffith, called up from Providence of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, will remain on Bergeron’s right.
“Sometimes it is a bit of an adaptation and adjustment, but I played with Loui before, and I know kind of his tendencies,” said Bergeron.
“And Seth is a smart player, he knows where to position himself on the ice. So it’s got the potential to be a good line, and we just have to go out there and play our game.”
Friday’s matchup is between two ‘Original Six’ franchises who are vying for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Bruins (20-12-4) are placed third in the standings, just one point behind the Canucks (21-15-3) and two behind the pacesetting Florida Panthers (21-12-4).
“Any time we play Montreal, it’s a big game and it seems like this is a bigger game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of the Winter Classic. “Obviously it’s a big rivalry, and the focus is always on those games more than maybe other games.”
The Bruins first hosted the Winter Classic in 2010 at Fenway Park, home venue for Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, where they edged the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both