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2012 NHL Winter Classic: 25 Fun Facts You Need to Know

Jason SapunkaCorrespondent IIDecember 22, 2011

2012 NHL Winter Classic: 25 Fun Facts You Need to Know

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    The 2012 NHL Winter Classic is less than two weeks away. The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are set to take part in the fifth annual outdoor hockey game and will face off on January 2 at 1 p.m. in Philadelphia.

    The two divisional rivals have a rich history with each other, making the matchup a fitting feature for hockey's most popular regular-season game.

    There are many tidbits of information regarding the game that fans should be interested to know.

     

    All stats courtesy of NHL.com, Hockey-Reference.com and HockeyFights.com.

Rangers Are Flyers' Most Common Opponent

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    The Winter Classic will be the 264th regular-season meeting between the Rangers and Flyers, the most of any Philadelphia opponent.

    The Rangers have played the Flyers more than any other non-Original Six team.

    The Flyers lead the all-time series with 114 wins, 104 losses, seven shootout losses and 37 ties.

Playoff History

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    The teams have also met a myriad of times in the playoffs.

    The Flyers have won six of the 10 series, including the last three meetings.

Playoff Firsts

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    When the Flyers beat the Rangers in the 1974 semifinals series, they became the first expansion team to eliminate an Original Six team.

    The Flyers then beat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Coaches Won Back-to-Back Stanley Cups

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    John Tortorella was hired by the Rangers in February of the 2009 season. Ten months later the Flyers hired Peter Laviolette.

    Coincidentally, Tortorella was the head coach of the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Laviolette won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes the next season.

Sharing a Record

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    Both the Rangers and Flyers' single-season points records are 123.

    The Flyers' record is held by Mark Recchi, set in the 1992-93 season.

    Jaromir Jagr broke the Rangers' record in the 2005-06 season. It was formerly held by Jean Ratelle, who totalled 109 points in the 1971-72 season.

Tortorella and Laviolette Are the Winningest American Coaches

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    Tortorella leads all American-born NHL coaches with 352 wins as of Thursday morning. Laviolette is second with 340.

    Laviolette actually passed Tortorella for the lead in November 2008 before Tortorella took it back in March 2009.

Second Base Has the Boards Up

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    The game is being played at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

    On December 21st, the boards were put in place.

    Comparatively, the rink at Fenway Park two years ago had the glass of the boards in place by December 17th.

The Flyers Are the Only Road Team to Lose the Winter Classic

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    Pittsburgh won in Buffalo in 2008, Detroit won in Chicago in 2009 and Washington won in Pittsburgh in 2011.

    The Flyers lost to the Bruins in 2010. The Flyers are hoping to break that trend once again by winning at home in 2012.

James van Riemsdyk Was a Rangers Fan

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    The New Jersey native listed the 1994 Stanley Cup Final as his favorite hockey memory and was a Rangers fan in his childhood before being drafted by the rival Flyers.

The Rangers Lead the NHL in Fights

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    The Rangers stand atop the NHL's leaders in team fighting majors with 26 on the season.

    They are led by Brandon Prust, who has 10. Eight other players split the remaining 13.

    The Flyers are fifth with 21.

Alumni Game Is Worth Watching

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    The December 31 alumni game will be played on the rink and feature past greats from both teams going head-to-head once again.

    The rosters are filled with plenty of notable figures, even with certain franchise icons being absent.

    Flyers fans will get to see the LCB line, more than three decades after Reggie Leach, Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber helped win two Stanley Cups.

    Rangers fans will be delighted to see the return of 1994 heroes Mark Messier and Stephane Matteau.

Tortorella and Laviolette Come from the Same Area

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    Tortorella was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He played collegiate hockey for the University of Maine.

    Laviolette was born in Norwood, Massachusetts, roughly 20 miles south of Boston.

    Laviolette played for Westfield State College, which is part of the Springfield metropolitan area.

The Ice Isn't Actually Frozen

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    Technically, if it's ice, it's frozen.

    But the way the ice is made is worth taking a look at—a large truck (basically a refrigerator on wheels) "removes the heat" from the ice.

Flyers Jersey Contains Unique Feature

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    The black shoulder yoke on the Flyers' winter classic jersey marks the first time the team will lack a continuous shoulder and arm stripe.

    It is also the first time the team will have black on its shoulders.

Most Expensive UFAs on Display

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    The summer's two most expensive contracts (ranked by cap hit) are being dispersed to players included in the Winter Classic.

    The two highest-paid unrestricted free agents from the 2011 summer are Brad Richards and Ilya Bryzgalov.

    Richards signed with the Rangers at a cap hit of $6.66 million per season.

    After trading for Bryzgalov's rights, the Flyers signed him to a contract averaging $5.66 million per season.

The Flyers Lead the NHL in Penalty Minutes

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    Though the Rangers are outfighting the Broad Street Bullies in terms of frequency, the streets of Philadelphia are anything but nice.

    The Flyers have a sizable lead in penalty minutes with 547 total: 16.6 per game.

    The Rangers are third with 15.2 per game.

Rangers' New Crest Has Never Been Worn

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    The crest that will be used on the Rangers' uniform is based on the team's original shield logo.

    Though it would seem to be something worn from the 1940s, the team has used the diagonal "Rangers" chest design throughout their history.

    The team used its regular crest for two seasons, 1977-78 and 1978-79. Those jerseys can be seen in this video.

Several Hundred Extra Seats Added to Center Field

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    Roughly 1,500 extra seats were added to center field for the event, bringing the total capacity of Citizens Bank Park to just about 45,000.

Laviolette Played for the Rangers

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    Laviolette played in 12 career NHL games. All were during the 1988-89 season with the New York Rangers. Laviolette recorded no points but was a plus-two with six penalty minutes.

Starting Goalies Are NHL's Highest-Paid This Season

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    Though Ilya Bryzgalov's contract averages $5.66 million per season, his salary for the first year of his new contract is a league-leading $10 million.

    Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers is making $6.87 million this year, second amongst goalies.

YOU Can Skate There!

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    The rink will be open for public skating, but tickets are required.

    If you haven't purchased one yet, prices are quite hefty; they go for $223 per ticket at StubHub.

Old Rivals Are New Allies

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    Three players who may be dressed in the Winter Classic have played for the opposite team.

    The most notable is Jaromir Jagr, who was the Rangers' captain from 2006-08. The Flyers' Jody Shelley played in 21 games for the Rangers in the 2009-10 season.

    New York's backup goalie Martin Biron was the Flyers' starter for two seasons from 2007 to 2009.

    Blair Betts of Philadelphia, who is on long-term injury reserve and has not played this season, was a Ranger from 2005 to 2009.

Winter Classic Appearance = Stanley Cup Champions?

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 after playing in the 2008 Winter Classic.

    The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 after playing in the 2009 Winter Classic.

    The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 after playing in the 2010 Winter Classic.

    This incredibly peculiar trend means that either the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins are meant to win this year's Stanley Cup.

    However, the final appearance trend was broken last season, so maybe not.

Winter Classic Appearance = Lose the Stanley Cup?

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins lost in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final after playing in the 2008 Winter Classic.

    The Detroit Red Wings lost in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final after playing in the 2009 Winter Classic.

    The Philadelphia Flyers lost in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final after playing in the 2010 Winter Classic.

    Neither the Washington Capitals nor Pittsburgh Penguins made it to the final last season, but three out of four times a Winter Classic participant made it to the final that season.

222 Fights and Counting

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    Not a surprise considering the anger of the rivalry and the frequency with which these two teams play, the teams have recorded 222 fights to this point in their history.

    The Flyers have 223 fights against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Otherwise the Rangers would top their list.

    The 222 against Philadelphia is the most against one team for the Rangers (since the 1957-58 season, the earliest date of the hockeyfights.com archive).

     

    Jason Sapunka is a B/R Featured Columnist for the Philadelphia Flyers.

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