Winter Classic 2012: 3 Keys to a New York Rangers Victory

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 1: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers looks on during practice for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park on January 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Two of the Eastern Conference's top teams will battle in this season's NHL Winter Classic. The New York Rangers are underdogs heading into the game at Citizens Bank Park despite beating the Philadelphia Flyers twice already this season.

Here are three keys to the Rangers emerging victorious against the Flyers once again.

1. Henrik Lundqvist

Lundqvist is one of the league's premier netminders. He serves as a huge advantage for the Rangers since the Flyers are struggling to find a consistent option between the pipes. In two games against the Atlantic Division rivals, the Swede already has one shutout and a .966 save percentage.

The Winter Classic is usually played at a slower pace than a normal game due to the outdoor conditions. That should help the Rangers defense keep Philadelphia's dynamic forwards out of scoring positions, and therefore further help Lundqvist.

2. Penalty Kill

The Flyers have one of the NHL's most potent power plays, which is no surprise considering how much talent they have up front. Luckily for the Rangers, they have two very solid penalty killing units that should be able to keep Philadelphia from dominating the special teams facet of the game.

There might not be a better PK pairing than Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Both guys are responsible in their own end and have virtually locked down the opposing team's top PP line. They'll need to be on top of their game again on Monday.

3. Same Game Plan

Perhaps the biggest mistake any team can make heading into a marquee game like the Winter Classic is changing its approach. There's a tendency to be a little bit more flashy instead of sticking to the basics because everybody knows the audience is larger than usual.

Playing smart is especially important for the Rangers, who have proven they can solve the Flyers riddle this season. As long as they attack this game just like it's a normal regular season clash, New York should be able to walk away a winner.