The Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers will do battle on Monday, January 2 at the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. This year's game will take place at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and will see the top two teams in the Atlantic Division battle for the two points that go along with winning this contest.
If you look at the history of the four Winter Classic games that came before the 2012 version, you'll see that they all ranked as some of the highest rated televised games in NHL history and the odds are the 2012 version will follow suit. Despite the pomp and circumstance surrounding this game, it must be remembered that it is a regular season game.
If you don't think that fact is important, just take a look at the Eastern Conference standings heading into the Winter Classic. The Rangers sit atop the conference with 50 points, the Boston Bruins are hot on their heels with 49 and the Flyers are also a threat with 48 points. If you look a little lower in the standings and focus on the playoff cutoff, you'll see that the No. 8 team, the Ottawa Senators, have 43 points; a mere seven points separates the top eight teams.
To further state the importance of the two points that are on the line on Monday, a glance at last year’s final standings saw the Eastern Conference champion Washington Capitals end the season with 107 points, while two teams, including the Flyers, trailed them by a single point.
You can bet that both coaches are well aware of just how important this game is and that can only bode well for the 47,000-plus that will attend the game live and the millions that will watch the game across the globe.
Bleacher Report will be on hand at Citizens Bank Park to report on this historic game. Please check back often, as we will provide you with updates, news and information in real time.