After all the pageantry, there was still a game left to be played. And what a game it was as the New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. Mike Rupp – playing only in his eighth game since returning from knee surgery – scored two goals while Brad Richards scored his 14th goal of the season – his sixth game-winner of the season – to earn two points in a wonderfully contested Winter Classic.
The story of this game was the third period as the Rangers took the lead after being down two and fended off not only the attacking Flyers but questionable officiating towards the end of the game. The difference-maker, as is customary, was Henrik Lundqvist, making 34 saves, including a penalty shot on Danny Briere with 19 seconds to go in the game.
Post-game thoughts on truly one of the best games on the season after the jump.
- I’ve watched all of the Winter Classics since its inception and I believe – aside from the first one between Buffalo and Pittsburgh – this was the best one. It started out slow as both teams were feeling each other out. But as the game wore on the action and intensity picked up, including a dramatic third period. The NHL comes out smelling like a rose as this Winter Classic had everything you could ask for.
- There’s been a lot of criticism towards Mike Rupp this season and whether or not he has a place on the Rangers. I’m not one of those people: I’ve been on board with it since the day he signed here. Rupp is a great teammate but first and foremost: he’s a hockey player. Scoring not one but TWO key goals with your team down in a huge divisional game speaks volumes. He certainly deserved the first star of the game today.
- Marc Staal made his triumphant return to the Rangers lineup and played solid in his 12:47 of ice-time. There was some rink rust (as to be expected), but there were glimpses of his defensive abilities sprinkled in. The Rangers defense just acquired a top pairing defenseman for the rest of the season
- Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant once again and his stop on Danny Briere’s penalty shot is just more proof of how great he can be. Hank kept his team in the game when they were down two and shut the door when they had the lead. Maybe this year is truly his year for the Vezina?
- This Winter Classic was almost ruined by some shoddy officiating. Ryan Callahan’s holding the stick penalty after Kimmo Timmonen tried ripping his throat out with his stick comes to mind. But, Ryan McDonagh’s “delay of game” penalty when the Flyers pushed HIM into the net was the biggest offense of them all. Glad to see the Rangers overcome those “obstacles” to hold on for the win.
- Brad Richards hasn’t been at the top of his game all season. Sure, he’s shown flashes of it with point streaks but he hasn’t put together the entire package. Yet, he’s got 14 goals on the season including 6 game winners with his goal today. One thing he has been this season consistently is clutch.
- Does anyone remember Glen Sather’s guarantee at the Winter Classic press conference months ago? Now it seems Messier-like.
- Congratulations to Brayden Schenn for getting his 1st career NHL goal in the Winter Classic. Has to be a great feeling that will last a lifetime. I’m done giving credit to the Flyers…
- I’m wondering if Jaromir Jagr injured himself in this game during the first period or was benched? He barely saw any time…
- 2 more crucial points in the standings with a win today. As of now, the Rangers are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks with 52 points for #1 in the NHL and are four points up on the Flyers for the division lead. A great way to kick off the 2012 year.
Make sure to check out Broad Street Buzz for their thoughts on another memorable Winter Classic.