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Adam: The 2012 Winter Classic was just that. It was a classic!
For years, I was of the opinion that this event would get old and the fans would lose interest if the NHL tried to overdo it. I thought that an outdoor game every year would eventually lose its luster, and it would be better served to limit the outdoor games to every three or four years.
Clearly, I was wrong. NBC does a great job promoting this event, and the fans eat it up.
As for the game itself, it was quite possibly the best game in the brief history of the event.
The ice was great, which is far from a guarantee in outdoor games, the weather held up perfectly and the two teams were actually able to show off their speed and skill. At the very least, it had the most flow of any Winter Classic game.
Oh, and there was some pretty solid physical play as well. Scott Hartnell’s big hit early in the game comes to mind, as do the numerous unfriendly “gatherings” after the whistle throughout the game.
It did seem like the refs wanted to give the Flyers every chance to tie the game at the end, though. They essentially gave Ryan Callahan two minutes for being hooked in the face as he was trying to seal the deal with an empty net goal. If he did hold Kimmo Timonen’s stick, it was for a fraction of a second, and it wasn’t enough to warrant a penalty.
The penalty shot call with 20 seconds to go was a bit suspicious as well.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, nor am I partial to either team, but I’d have to agree with John Tortorella’s assessment of the finish when he said, "I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to overtime. I'm not sure if they have meetings about that or what, but we stood in there."
As a final note, it was nice to see Marc Staal for the first time this season after he had been out of action for more than 10 months due to a concussion.
Alison: Believe it or not, I watched last year’s Winter Classic between my Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals on Tivo. The time change meant I was going to be at an AHL game and would not see the Winter Classic live. So this year, I was happy to see it live, even acting as a New York Rangers fan for the day.
I enjoyed the fact that long stretches of the game went on for quite a while. It can be distracting when the referees are blowing their whistles every few seconds and completely ruining the flow. It was also nice to see some physical play, as both teams treated this as a very real game rather than just a day filled with pomp and circumstance.
And can I just say how much I love Mike Rupp? I was a fan of his during his time in a Penguins uniform, and ironically, he had a hat trick against the Rangers while wearing black and gold. It was nice to see him step up and play a big part in this year’s Winter Classic by scoring two goals, especially when you’d think the likely hero for the Rangers would be someone like Brad Richards or Marian Gaborik.
I wasn’t thrilled about Scott Hartnell and the rest of the Flyers trying to scuffle after the game was over. In fact, I don’t like that kind of behavior in general. The game is over, and it’s best to just get off the ice and deal with the loss, then figure out what you can do better next time.