For one day, Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies, played host to the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers. Here’s a look back at the 2012 NHL Winter Classic.
Despite taking a 2-0 lead, the Rangers won the 2012 Winter Classic held at Citizens Bank Park, 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The spectacle that is the Winter Classic took place today at Citizens Bank Park, and for most of the day, things were perfect for Philadelphia fans.
The Flyers and Rangers were playing just another hard fought hockey game in their rich rivalry, and as the game progressed under the lights, with snow flurries falling at times, Citizens Bank Park couldn’t have served as a better backdrop for the annual hockey event.
The game turned out to be pretty good as well.
With the Flyers and Rangers battling through a scoreless first period, the first goal would be huge. The Flyers managed that goal midway through the second period, as Brayden Schenn capitalized on a rebound off a Matt Carle shot. For Schenn, it was his first NHL goal.
Just a short while later, Scott Hartnell set up a two-on-one for Max Talbot and Claude Giroux. Giroux, the Flyers’ leading goal-scorer this season, took the pass from Talbot and beat Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist to make it 2-0 Flyers.
All the momentum was shifting toward the Flyers in this one, but the Rangers were able to snatch it right back with a goal just 30 seconds later. Mike Rupp, a gritty forward for the Rangers, known more for his fists than his scoring touch, fired a wrist shot that beat Flyers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, cutting the lead in half, a 2-1 score that would hold as the team’s entered the third.
That brings us to two sub-plots of the game. First is a goalie controversy that started yesterday, as Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers’ colorful lead goaltender, announced that he was not starting today’s game. The Flyers’ brass hasn’t taken too kindly to that move, and Bryzgalov’s joking attitude, leaving questions as to who the Flyers’ top goaltender really is.
Second, Rupp followed his goal by doing the patented move of Flyers’ forward Jaromir Jagr, a salute. Jagr left the ice with three minutes left in the first, and only played 68 seconds of action in the second, while riding the bench for the rest of the game. Jagr said after the game that he had been bothered by a leg injury from the team’s last game in Pittsburgh, and felt he wasn’t going to be helping the team if he wasn’t feeling 100 percent.
Entering the third, the Flyers had the numbers to support that a win was just commonplace. They were 18-0-1 in games where they led after the second.
There’s a first time for everything.
The Rangers managed to get the tying goal, another for Mike Rupp, on a three-on-two rush led by Rupp. His shot glanced off the blocker-side arm of Bobrovsky before going in.
Less than three minutes later, a defensive breakdown by the Flyers led to another Rangers’ goal. Bobrovsky made two saves from in tight, but a wide-open Brad Richards was able to bury a rebound to give the Rangers the lead.
The Flyers struggled to get many chances in the third period until late. A couple of close plays in front of the net nearly tied the game, and the officials may have been lending a helping hand.
With five minutes to play, a delay of game penalty was called on Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh for intentionally knocking the net off its moorings. Replays would show McDonagh was bumped by Flyers’ forward James van Riemsdyk. Just over a minute left in regulation, the Rangers were trying to ice the game with an empty-net goal, when Kimmo Timonen disrupted Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan. However, Callahan was called for a diving penalty coupled with Timonen’s hooking penalty, giving the Flyers another chance.
The Flyers nearly tied things on a netmouth scramble in the closing seconds, but Danny Briere was stopped at the side of the net by Lundqvist as the puck leaked under his right pad. McDonagh was there to keep it out of the net, but, in a questionable call, covered the puck with his hand. The rule for a non-goaltender covering the puck with their hand in the goal crease is a penalty shot. So, with 19 seconds remaining in the game, the Flyers were awarded a penalty shot.
What followed next is something that both analysts, writers and Philly fans alike will dissect for quite some time. Head coach Peter Laviolette had his choice of shooter on the penalty shot, which included two players leading the team in goals on the season, in Hartnell and Giroux. But Laviolette went with Briere. Briere went straight in on goal and fired toward an open five-hole that Lundqvist offered the whole way, then closed to make the save.
The final 19 seconds ticked away without a real chance for the Flyers, and as the horn sounded, ending the Rangers’ 3-2 win over the Flyers, Scott Hartnell was whistled for a cross-checking call on McDonagh and added ten minutes for a misconduct penalty after the fact.
For the Rangers, this is their 24th win of the season, giving them an NHL-best 52 points, tied with the Chicago Blackhawks, who just happen to be the Flyers next opponent on Thursday night. The Rangers have now won seven of their last eight games, falling only to the Washington Capitals on Dec. 28 by a score of 4-1.
As for the Flyers, a woeful stretch of results continues for them. First off, they once again were unable to solve the Rangers and Lundqvist – the number one star of the Winter Classic – losing to them for the third straight time this season. The Flyers are now 2-4-1 since starting off December on a seven-game winning streak. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they face the Western Conference leaders, the Chicago Blackhawks, followed by a home-and-home with the upstart Ottawa Senators, which starts a four-game road trip.
All in all, the day ended the way it was intended, with a classic hockey game honoring the game and the great rivalries within it. The only thing that wasn’t right was the Flyers being on the losing end. But otherwise, the Winter Classic truly lived up to its name.