Before the Bruins can take the ice for the Winter Classic on January 2nd, they’ll have to complete a gauntlet of a schedule jam-packed with quality opponents.

The run, which began against Tampa on November 21st, will see the Bruins play eighteen games before facing off against Pittsburgh under the lights at Fenway Park. Fourteen of those games will come against opponents who either made the playoffs last season or currently hold a spot.

As of Wednesday night the B’s are over halfway through the gauntlet and have hardly skipped a beat, going 7-2-1.

They’ve beaten Tampa and Colorado twice apiece, took four of six points from Vegas and downed both Carolina and the Isles in OT. The only real aberration so far came in a last-second loss against Arizona, when the Bruins outshot them 46-16. Believe it or not, that was the Coyotes first win against Boston since they opened the 2010-11 season in Prague!

With Christmas inching ever closer, the back half of this run still presents challenges the Bruins have to ready for. Los Angeles, despite their defensive woes, are currently tied for second in the Pacific Division. Florida, while not playing at their Presidents’ Trophy level from last year, beat the B’s 5-2 three weeks ago. Winnipeg have morphed into a top five defensive team, and are two points behind the Central Division lead. Buffalo is overflowing with young talent and currently boasts the most prolific offense in the league.

Two games in particular that everyone should have circled are the 23rd and 28th against the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils are the surprise team of the year so far, and their meteoric rise has them right behind the Bruins atop the league standings. Both games come part of a three-game road trip, sandwiched around a pit stop in Ottawa.

The Bruins next game is 7pm Thursday night against LA at TD Garden.

Photo: Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald

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