2012 NHL Winter Classic: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
The 2012 NHL Winter Classic will feature the New York Rangers at the Philadelphia Flyers as the Rangers Flyers rivalry goes outdoors.
The New York Rangers deserve to play in the 2012 Winter Classic. They’re an Original Six franchise in the heart of Manhattan, playing in one of the most famous arenas in the world, with a decorated hockey history. They added the biggest name in free agency this offseason, have one of the best goalies in the NHL, and are the best team in the Eastern Conference right now. They’re an exciting choice with an enchanting, storied history. It makes sense, and their spot in the Winter Classic was inevitable.
Their counterpart certainly isn’t the most historic franchise in the NHL. The Flyers have the “Broad Street Bullies” and “Legion of Doom” claims to fame, but compared to the Rangers the Flyers are a new and undignified organization. They were brought into the league during the 1967 expansion, have only two Stanley Cup victories (and none since 1975), and a long history of disappointment. However, in the last few years the Flyers have been one of the most successful regular season teams in the NHL. The Winter Classic will be a showcase of the best the Eastern Conference has to offer.
Ignore HBO’s 24/7 shenanigans – I already knew Ilya Bryzgalov was crazy and that hockey players curse a lot. Ignore the obnoxious “Winter Classic game” commercials. Ignore Gary Bettman’s attempt to convince you that this game means something more as a hockey holiday. This yea’s Winter Classic is going to be special because, for the first time, the two teams chosen absolutely hate each other.
As the game gets closer there are plenty of headlines to choose from. Ilya Bryzgalov seems to be sitting this one out because he’s been a mediocre goalie this year (and for most of his career). The Flyers dismantled their team this offseason to make room for the outspoken philosopher-turned-goalie and his giant contract. Sergei Bobrovsky is outplaying Bryzgalov and will get the start. Is this the type of drama that can tear the Flyers apart again? Was it worth taking apart one of the league’s best rosters for Bryzgalov?
Chris Pronger is out for the season and the Flyers are not the same team without their captain. Will they be able to handle one of their biggest rivals without their leader?
This year’s Winter Classic is located at Citizen’s Bank Park – home of the Philadelphia Phillies. With the New York Rangers involved in a Winter Classic, it seems Yankee Stadium would have been a better choice. I understand the NCAA’s Pinstripe Bowl gets in the way, but the Philadelphia Phillies are the losingest franchise in sports history. This stadium choice is a bit of a let down and doesn’t compare to past hosts like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.
I was hoping for snow.
I know the Flyers are home, but in an outdoor game I think you can throw most of that advantage out the window. In the four recent Winter Classic games, three of the four games have been extremely low scoring. Two were a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation, and the Capitals held the Penguins to just a goal in their 3-1 victory last year. The Winter Classic, by and large, comes down to the terrible ice conditions limiting chances.
The Philadelphia Flyers average better than three goals per game, but the Rangers are right behind them with 2.94 goals per game. The bigger difference between these two teams is that the Flyers also allow nearly three goals a game, while the Rangers are right around two. Both teams can be physical, both teams will be energized.
The question for me in this game is who will let in the cheap goal that costs his team the game. The ice will get bad rather quickly and the dynamic skaters on both teams will be silenced. I don’t think Henrik Lundqvist will be the goalie that lets his team down.
Rangers 2 – Flyers 1
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