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NHL Winter Classic 2012: 10 Keys for the NY Rangers to Beat the Flyers

Nick ViscontiContributor IDecember 29, 2011

NHL Winter Classic 2012: 10 Keys for the NY Rangers to Beat the Flyers

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    Coming into the Winter Classic, the Rangers are 22-9-4.  Before the Winter Classic, they have one game left to play vs. the Islanders on the 30th. 

    They are first in the Atlantic Division, fighting Boston for tops in the conference and fighting Chicago for tops in the NHL.  Successful so far? I think so. 

    Their blue collar, hard-working and tough attitude have gotten them this far.  Now they need to stay like this.  In two games against Philly this year, they have looked absolutely fantastic winning both games 2-0 and 4-2. 

    If the Rangers continue to look like they have before the new year, then not only will they win the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, they're going to be a very dangerous team come playoff time. 

10. Prepare for Outdoor Conditions

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    For sports teams that play all 82 regular season games indoors, moving outside is going to be a challenge. 

    Add in chilly temperatures—41 degrees at faceoff and wind gusts of around 23 mph—and you've got one a cold day at Citizen's Bank Park.  Both teams better make sure to dress warmly when they play outside on January 2nd.

9. Stop Claude Giroux

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    Claude Giroux has been the most dynamic player in the NHL this season, hands down.  He's ninth in the league in goals (17), third in the league in assists (27) and the league leader in points (44). 

    He missed four games after suffering a concussion at the hands of teammate Wayne Simmonds.  Once he came back, he showed everybody he hadn't missed a beat. He recorded one goal and three assists in the Flyers' 4-1 win in Dallas

    This guy can flip a switch and beat you in so many different ways—he knows exactly how to do it.  Dangerous is his middle name. He has to be stopped if New York wants to win this game. 

8. Play Defense

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    The Rangers' defense has been one of the team's strong points all year.  Even their forwards drop back to play defense and backcheck. 

    They need to keep this going if they want to leave CItizen's Bank Park with a "W".  There's a possibility assistant captain Marc Staal will return to the lineup.  That will fill the hole left by the injuries to key defensemen Steve Eminger and Michael Sauer.

    Everyone knows the Flyers can score. They're fourth in the league in goals scored with 119 tallies.  The defense has held the Flyers to only two goals in two games, which is astounding. 

    The core of this team exists on the blue line and is a vital ingredient to the team's success so far this season.

7. Score! Score! Score!

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    Marian Gaborik has showed signs of his former self this season.  He has a league-leading 22 goals. 

    Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan have also contributed, scoring 12 and 13 goals, respectively.  The rest of the team has contributed at key points as well, including: Derek Stepan (8), Artem Anisimov (7) and rookie Carl Hagelin (6).

    They need to get to Bryzgalov and put a puck in the net quick.  Once he gives up the first goal, more will come.  If they keep pounding and standing in front of the net, goals will come in bunches.

6. Goaltending

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    Henrik Lundqvist is in the Top 5 in the league in GAA (1.95), SV% (.936) and SO (3).  He's one of the best goalies in the league and a perennial Vezina Trophy candidate.

    The Rangers have the swagger of a Stanley Cup contender this year he is in between the pipes—and they deserve to be.  He has single-handedly saved numerous games for this team during his tenure in the Big Apple. 

    Richter stood on his head and won a cup for the Rangers in 1994.  Now, I might be getting a bit ahead of myself a little bit, but if the Rangers go far into the playoffs this year, it's going to be because of this man.

5. Capitalize on Flyers' Average Penalty-Kill

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    When Philadelphia gets a man sent to the "sin bin," it seems that everyone holds their breath.  The Flyers are ranked 15th in penalty kills. 

    Now, I'm not saying their PK sucks—I'm saying that it's not their strong point.  The Rangers need to move the puck and shoot! 

    Too many times I've witnessed the Rangers pass and pass and not get a shot off.  They have guys like Richards, Del Zotto and Gaborik, who all have great heavy shots. 

    If they pepper Bryzgalov with shots on the PP, the Flyers' PK will falter and the Rangers will score goals.

4. Win the First Period

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    The Rangers are a notoriously slow-starting team.  If they want to beat the Flyers on the second, they need to come out and win the first period. 

    They can't sit back and see how the game is going to go anymore.  They need to come out of the locker room and say, "Hey Philly, we control things here" and take the bull by the horns."

    Philly has a winning percentage of .933 when leading after the first period. They are .500 when trailing after the first period.  It's extremely vital for the Rangers to come out and dominate the first period if they want to win.

3. Ignore the Hype

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    Everywhere you look is "NHL 24/7" this and "winter classic" that.

    For both teams, it seems like there's always a camera in your face trying to get a great shot for the show.  This has got to be not only annoying, but also distracting.  Trying to focus on doing your job, but constantly having cameras and people in your face, seems just plain old annoying. 

    The Rangers have done a good job thus far of ignoring all the hype and focusing on playing hockey—they must continue to do so.  If they ease up to "put on a show for the cameras," the Flyers—and any other team they play—will out right jump on it and run them into the ground.

2. "Buy into Tortorella's System"

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    John Tortorella is a fantastic coach and has really done a fantastic job with the Rangers.  I've heard people say he's a "pre-lockout" coach and that he will never win anything in the new NHL.  Well, he's getting a good opportunity with the Rangers this year. 

    His hockey philosophy is defense first and goals will come.  The Rangers have bought into his system in years past, but nothing like this. 

    I've been watching Rangers hockey since I was in diapers.  I've never seen a more dedicated, willing and hard-working collection of guys wear Broadway blue.  

    Tortorella really has a special group of kids. If they stick to his system, they can do wonders—starting with the Winter Classic.

1. Play Rangers Hockey

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    Coming into the Winter Classic, the Rangers are 22-9-4.  Before the Winter Classic, they have one game left to play vs. the Islanders on the 30th. 

    They are first in the Atlantic Division, fighting Boston for tops in the conference and fighting Chicago for tops in the NHL.  Successful so far? I think so. 

    Their blue collar, hard-working and tough attitude have gotten them this far.  Now they need to stay like this.  In two games against Philly this year, they have looked absolutely fantastic winning both games 2-0 and 4-2. 

    If the Rangers continue to look like they have before the new year, then not only will they win the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, they're going to be a very dangerous team come playoff time. 

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