Focus is on Monday's game

BOSTON -- There are still 18 days before the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers take the ice at Fenway Park for the 2010 Winter Classic, so a quick diagnosis reveals only a slight case of "Winter Classic fever" for the two teams as they get ready to square off in a conventional regular season game at TD Garden tonight.

"There's a lot of excitement going on right now about it, which is great; it's awesome," said Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart after his team's morning skate. "I think it's great for the game and great for the fans. But I think players look at it a little differently as far as tonight's game. It's another game that we have to win; it's going to be a tough game. It just happens to be the team that we're playing in the Winter Classic, which is good. It's a game we have to win."

The Flyers, especially, don't want to get caught up in any Winter Classic hype. They have a steeper task at hand after losing seven of their last eight games, a stretch that has dropped them to 13th in the Eastern Conference. Head coach Peter Laviolette said the focus of his team's visit to Boston is to "just win a game" and his captain Mike Richards echoed that sentiment.

"It's tough because with the way things are going now, it's more about the present time," Richards said. "It's a good game for us and obviously Boston's doing well right now. & I think it's going to be a good gauge of where we are just because Boston's one of the premier teams and us too, we're supposed to be, and I think it's up to us to take the onus and play better."

Bruins head coach Claude Julien stressed the importance of Monday's matchup not because of any future game his club and the Flyers will compete in but because of what the Bruins' scheduled holds for his team in the immediate future. Boston will embark on a three-game road trip later this week and not play at home again until Dec. 23.

"This is a must-win, if you want to look at it that way because it's not going to get any easier," Julien said.

Loose pucks

Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice for Boston and Brian Boucher was the same for Philadelphia, so expect those two to get the start tonight. All the active Bruins were present and accounted for during the skate. & Flyers tough guy Daniel Carcillo will make his return for the Flyers after serving a four-game suspension for his sucker-punch on Washington's Matt Bradley last week. In that game, Carcillo's actions put the Capitals on a nine-minute power play. Carcillo has received seven fighting majors this season.