Mike Halford

Video: Gallagher bats it home, after Pacioretty batted it to Gallagher

FOXBOROUGH — Maybe they should’ve had this thing at Fenway.

Despite playing in a football stadium, the Montreal Canadiens put on a batting display worthy of the diamond in pushing their lead to 3-0 over Boston in the 2016 Winter Classic.

Brendan Gallagher, playing in his first game after missing the previous 17 with a broken hand, knocked home a Max Pacioretty pass — which was also batted out of the air — for one of the better hand-eye coordinated goals we’ve seen in a while.

Tomas Plekanec added the secondary assist (sadly, not airborne) in what marked a triumphant return for Montreal’s top line.

Gallagher-Plekanec-Pacioretty was one of the NHL’s most productive trios prior to Gallagher getting knocked out of the lineup on Nov. 22.

Report: Columbus prospect Werenski unhappy at Michigan, contemplating going pro

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Well, here’s an interesting one regarding Blue Jackets prospect and current World Juniors standout Zach Werenski, from the Columbus Dispatch:

There are loud whispers that Zach Werenski, the Michigan defenseman whom the Blue Jackets took with the No. 8 overall pick in the NHL draft last June, is unhappy in college and thinking of turning pro.

The Jackets have had major difficulties on the blue line this season, and some believe the sophomore could help immediately.

Taken eighth overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Werenski’s stock couldn’t be higher. He’s currently tearing it up for Team USA at the Worlds — five points through the first five games — and has played very well for the Wolverines this season, emerging as the highest-scoring defenseman in the Big Ten.

The lure of turning pro isn’t anything new, either.

After drafting him, Columbus reportedly told Werenski they’d be willing to sign him to an entry-level deal immediately, and end his collegiate career.

“I was 50-50 for a while,” Werenski said in September, per the Dispatch. “It’s a great position to be in — signing with Columbus or going to the University of Michigan are great options — but it’s a really tough call.

“Some of the teams I met with at the combine … they made it really clear: If we draft you, you’re going to do what we tell you to do and play where we say you’re going to play. Columbus didn’t do that, and I really appreciate it.”

Werenski’s in his sophomore campaign at Michigan, but still only 18 years old (he finished high school in three years, and enrolled as a freshman earlier than most.)

Columbus’ blueline isn’t great, and there’s widespread belief Werenski could step in immediately and not just play, but help. But there has to be some trepidation — playing in the NHL at 18 is a tall order, especially on defense, and often comes with a steep learning curve.

The Blue Jackets can ill afford to damage Werenski’s progression, which is why throwing him onto a struggling team in a fairly dysfunctional environment — led by a notoriously hard-line coach in John Tortorella — is a risky move.

Of course, the risk could always pay off.

Kraft Hockeyville is back for 2016

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On the heels of last year’s incredibly successful campaign, Kraft Hockeyville is back.

Last year, Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, PA., became the first-ever winner of the Kraft Hockeyville contest, winning $150,000 of arena upgrades while getting the opportunity to host a preseason NHL game between the Penguins and Lightning.

This year, a new collection of rinks will compete for the title of Kraft Hockeyville. On April, 10 communities will be selected for a national round-robin vote and, throughout the month, the field will be whittled away until a winner has been voted in. In May, the winning community will be announced, and receive both $150,000 in arena upgrades and the chance to host a NHL preseason game in September.

Here at PHT, we’ll be profiling some of the communities chosen to participate. Be sure to check back frequently throughout the year to see if your local rink will take home the title.

For more details, please visit krafthockeyville.com.

Video: Desharnais opens Winter Classic scoring, just 74 seconds in

FOXBOROUGH — Didn’t take long for Montreal to get on the board at Gillette.

Just 74 seconds into the 2016 Winter Classic, Habs forward David Desharnais banged home his eighth goal of the season to give the Canadiens a quick 1-0 lead on the Bruins.

The nature of Desharnais’ goal was fitting — a lot of bounces, on a playing surface where the puck is, and will likely continue to, hop and skip a fair bit.

At 1:14 of the first period, the goal was also one of the fastest in Winter Classic history, though not the fastest. That came at the first-ever Winter Classic in 2008, when then-Penguins forward Colby Armstrong scored 21 seconds in.

WATCH LIVE: 2016 Winter Classic, Bruins-Habs from Gillette Stadium

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31:  A Winter Classic puck is photographed perched on the dasher boards during the Montreal Canadiens practice at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Happy New Year! Hope 2016 has been good thus far — and, if it hasn’t, hopefully things will improve by watching the Winter Classic between Boston and Montreal today, live from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

You can catch the game on TV (NBC, 1 p.m. ET), or watch online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.


Some relevant linkage for today’s affair:

With Gallagher’s return, Habs hope Winter Classic gets ‘dirty’

‘He’s an unbelievable teammate’ — B’s back Marchand after fourth suspension in four years

Looks like ideal conditions for the Winter Classic