I haven't written about the NHL in some time, but after the events of yesterday's flagship NHL event, I felt compelled to do so.
I know some of you won't agree with me, but allow me to give you my reasons for this statement.
I have only been watching the NHL for just over five years now. The only reason I started to watch was that I was on a school trip from England to New York and we saw a game between the New York Rangers and the Florida Panthers.
Ever since, I have been absolutely hooked on the sport and a die-hard New York Rangers.
When I first heard that the Rangers were going to be in this year's Winter Classic against the Flyers, I was so excited.
Finally, I got the chance to see my team perform in the NHL's main winter event against one of their biggest rivals. It was the Broad Street Bullies vs. the Broadway Blueshirts.
I was slightly annoyed that the game was moved from the traditional New Years Day slot, but in the end it was best that the game didn't try and compete against the NFL's final Sunday of the regular season.
After a while, my excitement died down for a bit, but when the Flyers revealed their jersey, my excitement spiked again in anticipation for the Rangers' jerseys.
Boy, they did not disappoint. I have to say, this is the first thing that made the game better.
When both teams revealed their jerseys, I thought they were both stunning. I loved how the Flyers managed to create a brand new vintage-looking jersey. Considering they were pretty much wearing their original jerseys anyway, they did a great job.
The Rangers jerseys were absolutely amazing as well. The off-white colour and the use of the shield logo made them look like very classy jerseys, especially combined with the navy helmets.
The jerseys managed to add that extra to the event, especially when the day started to become dark and the floodlights started to come on.
The venue was also a top choice in my opinion. Citizens Bank Park provided an awesome backdrop for the game, even including the big Phillies logo.
Add that to the 47,000 fans that filled the stadium and the noise that they were making and it provided a great atmosphere.
As for the game itself, it was easily the most free-flowing and high-tempo game of the Winter Classics we've seen. This was due in part to the ice condition being so good, for which Dan Craig deserves a ton of credit for. Because of the nice ice, the events on it proved much more fun and dramatic to watch.
I must say, I wasn't surprised that there wasn't a goal in the first period, as I did think that the two teams would spend the first twenty minutes feeling out each other and the conditions.
However, there were a couple of great scoring chances, which was nice to see because it showed that the two teams were prepared.
In the second period, I had a feeling that the game was about to open up and we were going to see some scoring. But when the Flyers got their two goals from Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux, I started to feel a bit dejected.
In the past, I would've given up on the Rangers. But this year, I had a gut feeling that they were still in it.
At this point, I have to be honest and say that I was quite happy to see that Schenn got his first goal, even though it was against the Rangers. I like the guy as a player, even if he is a Flyer.
For Schenn to get his first NHL goal in the Winter Classic was great moment for the guy.
Furthermore, what made the game even more special for me was the fact that the Rangers were down 2-0 with 25 minutes to go. They needed a hero to step up and get them back into the game.
Enter Mike Rupp.
The guy who had scored only one goal this season—mostly in part due to the knee injury that has kept him out for a part of the season—stepped up and got the crucial next goal for the Rangers.
Then, he even decided to salute the Flyers bench, a la Jaromir Jagr.
At this point, it was truly game-on, just as I had predicted. As the game entered the third period at 2-1 Flyers, I still had a sense that the Rangers were going to win it.
Which is the best Winter Classic?
Now even to this point, the game had quite a bit of drama to it, even though there had only been two penalties and a few mini scrums. However the third period really helped set the game apart from the other Winter Classics that have been held in the past.
With the Rangers down 2-1 at this point, they started to get a little momentum over the first part of the third.
Unbelievably, Mike Rupp popped up again with the help of his partners in crime—Brandon Prust and John Mitchell—to get the Rangers level with a bad goal on Sergei Bobrovsky.
Now this was amazing—two big rivals locked at 2-2 early in the third, just what the NHL wanted.
As if that wasn't enough, just as Doc Emrick had stated that none of the marquee players had played any part in the Rangers goals, Brad Richards pops up with 14:39 remaining to bury a rebound past Bobrovsky to make it 3-2 Rangers.
I was going insane.
I was fist-pumping, cheering, screaming and even running around the house!
Such a turnaround made the game that much more awesome.
Another factor that added to the game was the crowd, who made me feel like I was watching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. As well as the crowd, Doc Emrick proved once again that he is the best commentator in the sport.
I joked on Twitter that it would have been amazing if Sam Rosen was the play-by-play man. But, as good as it would have been, Doc made it that bit better.
So what else could happen that would make this game even better and more dramatic?
I'll tell you—the referees give coinciding minors to Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Callahan with just over a minute left as Callahan was about to score into the empty net.
So, for the last minute of regulation, we had a 5 on 4 situation with an empty net.
What more could we want?
How about the referees giving a penalty shot to the Flyers with 19.6 seconds left, after Ryan McDonagh was judged to have closed his hand on the puck in the crease?
This was a dubious call at best, in my opinion. It was more shocking because the commentators were joking earlier about a penalty shot being given, and then the refs go and do it!
At this point, my heart was literally thumping out of my chest, but I had every faith in the King, Henrik Lundqvist.
So with 19.6 seconds left, Danny Briere steps up to take the penalty shot, tries to go fivehole and is stopped!
The New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the 2012 Winter Classic.
I watched the NBC coverage of the game on a stream on my laptop and I can quite easily say that it did not take away from my overall experience from the game. Everything about it, in my opinion, was absolutely perfect.
Fore me, I think the only way this game will be beaten anytime soon would be if the Rangers were to win the Stanley Cup.
Feel free to share your views of the game and what you thought about the whole spectacle that was the Winter Classic.
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