Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Yesterday’s Winter Classic was everything you would want in a one-day hockey showcase. You had spectacular goaltending, you had hard hitting, you had unexpected players scoring, you had a penalty shot and you had Tortorella complaining about the referees. The best part of this game was seeing Marc Staal play his first hockey game of the season since suffering a concussion last year.

When the NHL decided that the 2012 Winter Classic was going to be played by the Rangers and the Flyers, you couldn’t of asked for a better rivalry in hockey. (Unless you matched the Islanders against the Rangers) This 2012 Classic was a game between rivals but it was also a game to decide first place in the Atlantic Division.

The first period ended with both teams scoreless. The Flyers had their chances but Lundqvist looked pretty solid. The Rangers had a few runs at the Flyers net but were also held scoreless. This isn’t the first time that these two teams have met this year but they seemed to be on their best behavior. There was one scrum at the beginning of the period but the nastiness of both teams was missing.

The second period started the same way but all of a sudden the Flyers were stepping on the gas pedal. They were buzzing the Rangers net and peppering Lundqvist. Braydon Schenn, with his first goal of the season, scored the Flyers first goal. This was followed by a goal by Claude Giroux, the Flyers best player who has also just come back from a concussion. So, with a little more than five minutes left in the second period, the Flyers were up 2-0. The ice was starting to tilt in the Flyers direction but this is still the Rangers and the Flyers and anything can happen and it did.

Thirty seconds after Giroux scored, Mike Rupp put the puck in the net for the Rangers. Mike Rupp is not a big goal scorer but he seems to get big goals. He scored the winning goal in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final when he was with the Devils. After his goal, Rupp saluted the Flyers bench to mock Jaromir Jagr’s trademark goal salute. The Flyers’ Scott Hartnell decided to have a talk with Rupp at center ice about this and the jawing began. Scott Hartnell who looks like Side Show Bob from the Simpson’s cartoon seems to be in the middle of all the Flyers instigating. Rupp said a few things back but Hartnell didn’t seem like he wanted to dance with Rupp, who would.

The third period started and the hitting was turned up a bit. Then 2:41 into the third period, Rupp scores again to tie the game at three. His second goal of the game did not need a salute. Three minutes later Brad Richards netted the third goal of the game, which turned out to be the game winner. And now the fun starts.

It appeared that the referees wanted this game to go into OT and possibly a shootout. The officiating became so obviously lopsided against the Rangers. The refs overlooked Flyers infractions and called questionable Ranger penalties in the final minutes, especially two that were called in the final two minutes.

With 1:06 left, Ryan Callahan had the puck and an open net in front of him, but was hauled down by Kimo Timonen. However, Callahan was initially called for unsportsmanlike diving, but then it was changed to holding the stick, setting up a four-on-four final minute.

Then, with :19.6 seconds left, Philadelphia’s
Danny Briere was awarded a penalty shot on a call against Rangers defensman Ryan McDonagh for covering the puck in the crease.

This led to a penalty shot and Briere is pretty much 50 percent on the year for shootouts. He came barreling down on Lundqvist and tried to go five hole but Lundqvist denied Briere’s attempt and that was all she wrote, the Rangers win the 2012 Winter Classic and what a Classic it was.

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