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Tag:2012 Winter Classic
Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Classic ends in penalty shot; Torts rips refs

By Brian Stubits

PHILADELPHIA -- For the first 35 or so minutes, the fifth edition of the Winter Classic was on its way to being the most forgettable. By the end, it was one of the most memorable. And it was a Henrik Lundqvist save away from being the most controversial.

With 19.6 seconds left and a mad scramble in front of the Rangers net, the play was blown dead. What came next was a penalty shot from Danny Briere, the Flyers trailing 3-2, the result of Ryan McDonagh covering the puck in the crease according to the officials.

It was the most dramatic moment in a Winter Classic to date.

"It was just a big scramble in the end they started to get pucks in front," Lundqvist said. "I didn't really see the puck I just stretched out my right leg and tried to stay on the post there and then I hear the whistle and then I hear the ref 'penalty shot.' I couldn't believe it."

Not surprisingly, neither could Rangers coach John Tortorella. "The penalty shot, I still don't understand."

The fans came to their feet when Briere circled in his own of the ice, getting ready for the chance to tie the game. Briere got the call instead of Claude Giroux, tied for the NHL's league lead in points after his beautiful backhand goal earlier in the game.

"We had a choice between the guys that were on the ice," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It comes down to really between Danny and Claude, they're both regulars in the shootout. I think Danny, being a natural goal scorer, thrives in that area a little bit more. It was my decision."

So Briere came down deliberately, eventually firing the shot at Lundqvist's five hole. Denied.

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"I just tried to be patient and do my thing," Lundqvist said. "He's a tricky guy. If I make the first move he's going to score. Obviously there's a lot of pressure on me there. I couldn't believe when he called it a penalty shot but it was exciting. The whole game was exciting. The end was pretty intense but it was great."

It was definitely intense. The Rangers had to find every bit of strength to hold off a massive Flyers push to close the game that was aided by some penalties, ones that Tortorella wondered about after the game. For as forthright as Lundqvist was admitting to his surprise, Tortorella was as subtle as an elephant walking across down the street.

"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs or what to turn this into an overtime game," Tortorella said afterward. "It started with the non-call on Gabby's [Marian Gaborik] walk, he gets pitch-forked in the stomach and then everything starts going against us.

"For two good referees, I thought the game was reffed horribly. I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they did want to get it to an overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what. They're good guys, I just thought tonight, in that third period, it was disgusting."

One of those calls that didn't go their way was against Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. He was advancing up the left wing with about a minute to go, hunting an empty-net goal to end the suspense. He was taken down by Kimmo Timonen. Instead of a goal for the Rangers, Callahan was called for holding the stick to match Timonen's interference.

"Apparently I was holding his stick," a bewildered Callahan said after the game. "The stick was up by my chin. It was a tough one."

As a result Callahan, one of the Rangers' best shot-blockers, was left to watch that dramatic sequence from the penalty box.

"I was in the box but from what I saw it looked like Richards was pushing the puck out of the crease," Callahan said. "Hankie then comes up with a huge save to win it for us."

It was a huge save that likely saved the Winter Classic conspiracy talk from being at a fever pitch. What Tortorella said was a bit tongue in cheek -- I think -- but there would have been a lot more of the same cries coming from outside.

It certainly made for one memorable finish, that much can't be disputed.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:17 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 10:11 pm
 

Jagr talks injury, Rupp salute

By: Adam Gretz

PHILADELPHIA -- Jaromir Jagr played just seven minutes during the Flyers' 3-2 loss to New York in the Winter Classic on Monday evening, leaving the game with a left leg injury.

He was seen leaving the ice late in the first period to head to the locker room with what was originally described as an equipment issue. But when he left the game for good after just two shifts in the second period it was obvious that it was something related to an injury.

When asked after the game if it was an old injury Jagr simply said, "I got speared last game and there was swelling in that muscle. Maybe because it was too cold and we couldn't heat it."
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He would only say that the injury was to his left leg and would not specify where, exactly, the injury was bothering him. He also said that he knew immediately after his second shift in the second period that he wouldn't be able to return to the game, and even though he never took another shift, he remained on the bench the remainder of the game and even hinted that he might have had an opportunity to play in the third period if the Flyers would have had a two-man advantage.

"I like my teammates and wanted to part of that," said Jagr of his decision to return to the bench. "I knew it wasn't going to get any worse if I sit on the bench, and I want to be part of that. I'm part of the team and to sit here I would watch it on TV anyway. That way I was close, and you never know, maybe there would be a power play or a 5-on-3 and coach would put me back in there."

Jagr said he didn't think the injury was serious and that he "should be back soon."

Even though he never returned to the game, or factored into the goal scoring during his limited time on the ice, his presence was still felt in some small way as Rangers forward Mike Rupp celebrated the first of his two goals by saluting the crowd at Citizens Bank Park, a celebration that Jagr has been doing after every goal he scores throughout his NHL career (including in his first return to Pittsburgh as a member of the Flyers last week).



"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," said Jagr when asked about his reaction to Rupp's celebration. "He decided to do it, and he scored, and it was a good goal, too.

He then paused for a moment and smiled, "We still got to play them three more times and I think I'm going to score and salute him back."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:02 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 8:51 pm
 

Rupp turns tide for Rangers' Winter Classic win

By Brian Stubits

PHILADELPHIA -- You always hear about how important the next minute after a goal is. The game can flip like a switch in a heartbeat. One second a team is celebrating their goal, the next they're reminded to get back in the game.

That's how the 2012 Winter Classic flipped and how the Rangers came away with the win. For the first 35 minutes or so it was all Flyers. They had the chances, they had the possession and they had the lead.

The Rangers have guys who can do that. Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards ... they both come to mind. Mike Rupp can flip momentum in a game too, but that's usually by dropping his gloves, not by dropping pucks in the other team's net.

It was Rupp's goal just 49 seconds after Matt Carle gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-0 lead in their (neighbor's) house. That's when the Rangers finally seem to find their footing on the patchwork outdoor ice of Citizen's Bank Park, just shy of 38 minutes into the game. Or maybe it was his Jaromir Jagr salute after the goal that juiced up the Rangers. Either way, they had life.

"The crowd's going, you're down 2-0," Rupp said after the game while sporting the Broadway Hat, the Rangers' victory token this season. "Any game that you get that next shift -- there's times where you're looking to maybe pick a fight, you're trying to get a big hit, you're trying to play in their zone -- just to change the tide a little bit. I think a goal is the best way you can but it's just trying to throw things at net and keep it simple."

That's a good way to describe it, it was simple. It wasn't a thing of beauty -- nothing that's going to make Rupp look like the scorer that he isn't -- just a wrister from the slot with a defenseman trying to close the shooting lane.

"It was a key moment of the game because they had all the momentum on their side," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Again, the game is a series of momentums, how quickly you get it back vs. losing it. We go down 3-0 that's tough sledding, as far as trying to come back there. We end up scoring the next goal right there and it puts you right back in."

As for that salute? Well at first Rupp didn't want to talk about it, pulling a Peter Laviolette and saying "I don't know what you're talking about" with a smirk. But it happened, and he knew it.

"No pre-thoughts, just kind of excited in the moment," Rupp said.

The Flyers and Scott Hartnell sure seemed to notice it as he appeared to be chirping at Rupp before the third period. You were thinking that's how Rupp affects a game for the better for his team, with a little tangle, not a stick and dangle.

"He [Hartnell] just wished me a happy new year and I did the same," Rupp said, leaving what's said on the ice to stay on the ice. "So, hopefully he has a good year and he wished me the same."

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Good thing for the Rangers that didn't result in a fight. It was within the next few minutes -- when Rupp would have still been serving a five-minute major if he did fight -- that he struck again.

It was Rupp again that tied things up and took us back to square one, before the lights were making an impact on the ice. His high, short-side goal somehow leaked by Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

From there it was all Rangers, save for the final two-minute flurry from the Flyers after the flurries had finished falling at Citizen's Bank Park.

"We've been a good third period team all year long," Tortorella said. "We just wanted to just try to get pucks to the net and grind away. I thought we really started grinding -- and really in the conditions that's the only way you're going to be able to play. It suited well for us. I don't think we did a good job in the first half but I think we found ourselves as it went on."

As big as that first goal for Rupp was, the key to this game for New York might well have been the first period. The ice was tilted -- against the wind, mind you -- in favor of the Flyers. They dominated play. It was all Philly. Still, the Rangers took the long walk back to the clubhouse through the third base dugout at a 0-0 tie. The Flyers had some very good chances to notch the first goal then but couldn't get it in.

That won't be as obvious of a key to victory as Rupp's two goals, but it certainly was.

"Early on in the first period there a couple breakaways, some breakdowns, he makes the saves there," Tortorella said. "He was put right on the center stage there and answered."

Lundqvist is used to center stage. He owns center stage. But Rupp? It's not often he gets to have the leading role. That would explain his humility with the Broadway Hat on. Either that or he was really humiliated. Artem Anisimov interrupted his interview after the game and asked 'Why they give you Broadway Hat?"

"Just wanted to see how dumb I look because it doesn't fit," Rupp responded. "Good question."

It might have looked dumb, but it had to feel great. The whole thing had to feel great, really. From playing in the Winter Classic again and getting the snow he wished for last year -- albeit briefly -- to scoring two goals, his first two since returning from injury.

"It was a great experience again and it feels good to win this time," Rupp said, referring to last year's Winter Classic loss while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "I just got to shoot the puck twice and fortunately it went in.

"You want to contribute; I was able to tonight so it felt good."

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 5:28 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 7:35 pm
 

Brayden Schenn's first NHL goal comes in Classic



By: Adam Gretz

PHILADELPHIA -- Brayden Schenn was one of the key players acquired over the summer by Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren during his overhaul of the teams roster, going to Philadelphia in the trade that sent former captain Mike Richards to Los Angeles.

One of the top prospects in the NHL, Schenn entered Monday's Winter Classic having appeared in just eight games for the Flyers after starting the season in the American Hockey League (mainly for salary cap purposes) and missing some time with concussion symptoms. He had yet to record a point for the Flyers or score a goal in the NHL.
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That all changed at the 12:26 mark of the second period when he snapped a scoreless tie, breaking the ice on what had been 32 minutes of scoreless hockey.

After a Matt Carle shot from the point was stopped by Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Schenn drove to the front of the net and banged in the rebound.

"It went in and I kind of almost blacked out I got so excited," said Schenn after the game. "It's good to get out of the way, and the family and friends were in town to see that so it was nice to score and get it today, but the win would have been just as nice."

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 2:25 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 7:27 pm
 

Seating views for Winter Classic



By: Adam Gretz


PHILADELPHIA -- Tickets to the NHL's Winter Classic are a lot of money. It's probably the most sought after ticket on the NHL's regular season schedule, and whether you're buying them at face value or off the second-hand market you're going to spend a large amount of coin.

Depending on where you're sitting in the stadium, your view of the game may not be all that great, especially when compared to your usual views inside an NHL arena. Of course, that's one of the drawbacks to putting an ice rink in the middle of a venue that wasn't designed for watching hockey.

I can't speak for the views in Buffalo, Chicago or Boston in recent years, but based on last year's game in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, and this year's game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the upper deck is most definitely the best seat in the house for actually having a good view of the ice.
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Seats on the lower level, especially towards the front rows, offer almost no view of the ice. The higher up you are, the better. The best seats in Philadelphia seem to be located in one of three areas: The upper deck at center ice (or what would be directly behind home plate on a baseball layout) and in the upper directly behind either goal. 

Before Monday's game between the Rangers and Flyers, I took a walk around the stadium and snapped some photos from the different setions, as seen in the video posted above. 

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 1:05 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 1:28 pm
 

Rangers' Marc Staal will play in Winter Classic

By Brian Stubits

PHILADELPHIA -- It's becoming a Staal family tradition.

Just like his brother Jordan for the Pittsburgh Penguins one year ago, New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is going to make his return in the Winter Classic today as the Rangers take on the Philadelphia Flyers.

Marc Staal has been out all season long, being shut down in the preseason for precautionary reasons. He didn't play for the remainder of 2011 because of a concussion. But with the new year comes a new start and Staal is finally healthy enough to return.

"I sat down and asked him, 'do you want to play?' I've heard so many different things and Marc was talking quite a bit," coach John Tortorella said before the game. "I said 'Staals, I don't care about anybody else's opinion, are you OK to play?' He said he was, so he's playing."

The next question becomes about what the Rangers can expect from Staal in this game. He hasn't played since last season's playoffs so presumably there's a lot of game rust to get rid of.

"If Marc Staal tells me, and as I've told you all before, I needed a yes or a no. I got a yes from my trainer, I got a yes from my doctor and more importantly I got a yes from the player," Tortorella said. "He's going to play. I don't care if we're playing in a creek somewhere, he's going to play.

"As far as the minutes and the things that go along with Marc Staal, that's going to take time as far as where he's going to sit within our lineup. He'll play in the third period today and we'll make judgments as we go through. We're not putting him in a top four position and we'll make judgments about his game as it goes along here and he starts playing again."

As for who the Rangers will sit, Tortorella said before the game that he hadn't even made the decision yet.

"I haven't even talked to the player yet because not even all the players are even here yet. I'm still not sure."

That's going to be a knee to the gut for whichever player that will be. Imagine preparing to play in the Winter Classic only to arrive at the stadium and be told you're out. Ouch.

The Winter Classic's faceoff was moved back to a 3 p.m. ET start because of temperature and concerns over the glare on the ice

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Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 1, 2012 3:32 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 5:41 pm
 

Winter Classic start pushed back to 3 ET

By Brian Stubits

For the second consecutive year, the Winter Classic will not begin when it was initially scheduled.

The NHL announced on Sunday that the start of the game, originally slated for 1 ET, has been pushed back two hours to begin at 3 ET.

From the NHL's release:

The revised start time is based on tomorrow's weather forecast and should offer optimal game conditions for players and fans.

The result will be felt in a few ways, all of which are positive in my mind. First of all, by 3 the sun should be below the top of the stadium, meaning it won't be shining directly on the ice. That will help keep the temperature down, the ice crisp and perfect as well as reducing a lot of the glare the players were going to have to deal with.

The Flyers had an early practice on Sunday and had to deal with the glare and heat. Players, like Jaromir Jagr in the photo above (soul patch included), were sporting the ol' eye black to help with that problem.

As soon as the practice was done, the ice crew laid down tarps over the logos because the sun can also make the logos on the ice bleed, a problem we saw a little bit in the Chicago Classic.

Remember, the Alumni Game was also pushed back to 3 ET on Saturday and that went off well after the change in start time. And it's unlikely to have much of a negative impact, if any.

"Time change? I think once you see what happened to the first game that was played here, I'm sure that you have to think about
it," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "So it doesn't change anything as far as they just move your hours up a couple as far as your game and all that, so it doesn't change anything."

It means that the game will come to a close under the lights of Citizen's Bank Park like it was last year in Pittsburgh.

Personally, I don't get why the NHL doesn't push these games back anyway. It certainly didn't deter the viewing base on television as last year's game was the most-viewed Winter Classic so far.

If the NHL can get off the insistence of having the game at 1 ET every season it will open up the opportunities to go West. That's one of the big deterrents at the moment for placing in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. But maybe the NHL is realizing that the glare of the sun doesn't help matters and prime time games might be better for the play, let alone the viewership.

Another benefit from the later start, our friends on the West Coast can actually sleep in and still watch the game.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 1, 2012 3:05 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Winter Classic preview: What to look for

By Brian Stubits

It's hard to remember the Winter Classic is just another game on the schedule. In reality it is just that. The winner of this game gets nothing more than two points in the standings.

But in practical purposes, the Winter Classic is anything but normal. It is annually the most-watched game of the season and it's not even close. It's commonplace for players and even coaches on occasion to do some chirping before games. But general managers throwing down the gauntlet like the Rangers' Glen Sather did a couple months ago? Yea, that's no ordinary game.

Plus, you know, they play it outside and all.

Without further ado, let's look ahead to the NHL's annual "celebration of hockey" on Tuesday in Philadelphia between the Flyers and the Rangers.

The weather

It goes without saying this is the only game of the season when this matters now that the NHL has stopped the Heritage Classic in Canada.

The initial game-day in the extended forecast called for rain and warm temperatures. That has been altered, for the good. Now the game-time temp is supposed to be 41 degrees and the only element to deal with will be the wind, where it is expected to blow in excess of 20 MPH.

So the ice itself should be alright for the game. As for the wind? It might have an impact, but we're not talking football here where the ball will be affected by strong gusts on field-goal attempts or deep passes. It sure beats precipitation fogging up visors.

Home-field advantage

Not in this game. There is virtually zero home-ice advantage of which to speak in the Winter Classic. Both teams are equally inexperienced with the sheet of ice in Philadelphia. Despite two times the amount of fans in the building, the noise level doesn't factor in. As a matter of fact, it's diminished with fans so far from the ice and no roof.

"I think you go back to our building over there when it matters and when it counts to have our fans behind us, I think it's really important," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said on Sunday. "We are looking forward to getting here and on this ice out here in front of that many people and having a great game."

But the points stands, don't expect the Flyers to have a big advantage just because they're the home team and the Citizen's Bank Park seats will be full of folks garbed in black and orange. Of the five Winter Classic games played to date, only one of them has seen the home team come away victorious and it took the Bruins an overtime period to beat the Flyers in 2010.

One advantage that I suppose you can credit to the Flyers is the fact that they have multiple players who have experienced Winter Classics before thanks to that game at Fenway Park two years ago. I put little stock into that, however. Once the game begins, experience means squat. Rangers coach John Tortorella agrees that won't mean much.

"We have kept our schedule, our whole way we have gone about our business has stayed the same and it will say the same tomorrow," Tortorella said. "We go day-to-day as far as how we prepare and that's what we have  done  right  on through this, we'll be doing the same thing as we get ready to play tomorrow."

Goals not galore

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Just continuing to look at the trends of past games, don't expect to see a lot of scoring. Only the game at Wrigley Field between the Red Wings and Blackhawks showed off much in the way of offense as the teams combined for 10 goals. The other three games combined have only seen nine goals (the Penguins won in a shootout).

That could just be as simple as a coincidence, there certainly is not a big sample size we're talking about here. Or it might be a real trend. I'd like to think that some of the uncontrolled elements play a role the lack of scoring in games, particularly factors such as glare, discomfort and surroundings.

I'll take my chances and say don't expect a lot of scoring on Monday. That's a bit easier to say knowing Henrik Lundqvist will be manning one crease.

Fighting chance

Half of the Winter Classics thus far have seen a fight. Each of the last two renditions featured impromptu boxing matches. So it's not like the players are going to shy away just because of the spotlight.

In the case of these two foes, there is a lot of dislike to put it mildly. Only the Blackhawks-Wings tilt compares favorably to this year's matchup in terms of a true rivalry. So it's likely some bad blood will spill over.

That seems especially plausible when you realize that last year's fight between the Penguins and Capitals featured Mike Rupp facing John Erskine. You'll recall that Rupp signed with the Rangers in the offseason so he'll be on the ice on Monday.

Players to watch

First for the Rangers, keep tabs on Brandon Dubinsky. The young Rangers forward was off to a very tough start this season, it had to be frustrating. It wasn't until Dec. 22 that he scored his second goal of the season. For a guy that had 24 goals last season, that's quite a drop.

However he is starting to return to the mean. What, you thought that only worked in the regression sense? Not exactly. Dubinsky enters the Winter Classic having scored a goal in each of his last two games and three of the past five.

For the Flyers, I'd love to say Ilya Bryzgalov but he's just going to be sitting on the bench, enjoying his tea in a thermos. Now if NBC can just get him mic'd up for the game, they'd have the best on-ice commentator in the sport for the broadcast, with all due respect to Darren Pang.

However it does mean that the actual Flyers starter, Sergei Bobrovsky, will be worth keeping an eye on. He's been playing very well lately for the Flyers and with Bryzgalov's struggles, this could be an opportunity for Bobrovsky to stake a big claim that he should continue to get a lot more playing time. Remember, it was just a season ago that he was their starter and came to the NHL with a lot of promise.

Prediction

I'm a sucker for trends, so I'm going to stick with them in this game. I've got the visiting Rangers winning a low-scoring affair. Plus, in a situation like that I'll take Lundqvist over Bobrovsky. I'll put my name down for a 3-1 prediction in favor of New York.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com