Another year, another memorable Winter Classic.
This time it was the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers who dazzled the hockey world outdoors for the 5th annual rendition of the NHL’s crown jewel.
It started slow but eventually gained momentum. The first 10 minutes were mostly spent by the clubs feeling each other out and getting used to the conditions. They turned out to not be an issue at all today. Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist both raved about how great the ice was in postgame. The rest of the first was mostly dominated by the Flyers with Lundqvist keeping the Rangers in the game. He made a few highlight reel saves on Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux while the Rangers offense provided zero help in a scoreless first period.
The second started with more of the same. Flyers were getting the chances, the King kept stopping them, and the Rangers looked as coach Tortorella would say later “stale”. The Flyers finally broke through just over 12 minutes into the 2nd period. Brayden Schenn picked a great setting to pocket his first career NHL goal as he took a tremendous pass from Matt Carle to beat Lundqvist and give the Flyers the opening tally. The Rangers really looked stale at this point as the Flyers continued to apply loads of pressure and 2 minutes later Claude Giroux took a pass from Max Talbot and beat the king with a dandy move to give the Flyers a commanding 2-0 lead.
It did not take long for the Rangers to finally show some life. 30 seconds later, with all the momentum and the crowd behind the Flyers, Mike Rupp beat Sergei Bobrovsky with some help from a Andrej Meszaros screen to give the Rangers a spark. Tororella would later say it “changed the game”, and clearly it did. The Flyers would not score again. And for good measure, Rupp gave the sellout crowd the Jaromir Jagr “salute”. Nothing like making fans in the city of brotherly love.
The Rangers carried the good feelings into the 3rd and jumped on the Flyers fast. It was Rupp, Prust, and Mitchell again just under 3 minutes into the period. No salute from Rupp this time who came into tonight with 1 goal during an injury shortened first half but put in his second of the game to make it all even at 2. Now it was time for the Rangers stars to shine. The grinders got them back in it, but their big free agent acquisition put them ahead. Brad Richards found a loose puck in front of the net just 3 minutes after Rupp tied it and scorers like Richards do not miss those. Without question the biggest Rangers moment for Richards, and it came on what is the NHL’s biggest national stage. Money well spent so far. The game hit a wall for the next 6 or 7 minutes. There was plenty of dump and chase with the Rangers hanging on to a 1 goal advantage. The last 5 minutes got a little crazy.
Just before the 5 minute mark Ryan McDonagh, who despite fighting the flu played a great game on the blue line, was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass. A furious kill for the Rangers with more sparkling Lundqvist goaltending kept the Flyers from getting the equalizer. With the goalie pulled and less than a minute to play the Flyers really put on the heat with several great chances. Their best came with 20 seconds to play. After a huge scramble in front of the Rangers net it was deemed by the officials that Ryan McDonagh covered the puck with his hand and the Flyers were awarded a penalty shot. Coach Tortorella was not happy. The words “horrific” and “disgusting” were used by Torts after the game to describe the refs, he’ll probably hear from the NHL on that one. But nonetheless, Danny Briere took the penalty shot, and to cap off what was a fantastic night for Henrik Lundqvist, he sent Briere away empty handed. The final seconds ticked away and the Rangers left Philadelphia with what meant the most, 2 more points in the standings.
It was another memorable night for the NHL as once again they put their game on the national stage, and the fans were not disappointed.
- Jaromir Jagr left the ice with a few minutes left in the 1st with an apparent injury. He did come out to the bench for the 2nd and 3rd periods but did not see the ice much. He finished with just 7 minutes of ice time. After the game, coach Laviolette did not address the injury, only saying Jagr was not available to him late in the 3rd with the game on the line.
- Marc Staal played in his first game since suffering a concussion last season. Staal played 12 minutes and said he felt good after the game and it took him a period to get adjusted to being back out in game action.
- The Rangers are now 3-0 against the Flyers this year, but of course, as Torts would tell you, “it doesn’t matter”
- The Flyers out shot the Rangers 36-33. Rangers were 0/1 on the power play while the Flyers 0/2 including the big one with 5 minutes left in the 3rd.
It was a blast being here for the game and was quite the experience. Truly nothing like it. Keep it with Hockey This Week as I’ll have some audio and pics later tonight and tomorrow.
Goodnight from Philadelphia!
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