Winter Classic 2012: Rangers Will Destroy Flyers and Validate Stanley Cup Hype

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23:  Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on December 23, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

You better believe the New York Rangers are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and if you still refuse to believe that then the Blueshirts will show you first hand on January 2 when they destroy the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic.

The Rangers lead the Eastern Conference with 48 points, but the Boston Bruins have one game in hand. These two teams have yet to play each other, but there is no question they are the beasts of the East.

Philly has lost both meetings with the Rangers this season by a combined score of 6-2. Without captain and star defenseman Chris Pronger for the rest of the season, the Flyers will struggle mightily against teams with a lot of offensive firepower like the Rangers.

The Rangers are ninth in the league in goals per game, and star winger Marian Gaborik leads the NHL with 22 goals.

When he's healthy, Gaborik is a top player, and thus far he's been able to consistently stay in head coach John Tortorella's lineup and produce at an elite level.

New York also has arguably the NHL's best goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, who has played fantastic again this season which comes as no surprise. His goaltending is a major reason the team is No. 2 in goals against per game this year.

The difference this season is the Rangers are scoring goals and giving King Henrik offensive support so he does not have to win the majority of games by himself.

Center Brad Richards has been worth the large contract the Rangers gave him in the summer, and has been the No. 1 center the team has needed for quite a while.

The Rangers aren't a team of top talent and little depth. They have many solid players who are "true" hockey players that every coach would want on his team, such as captain Ryan Callahan.

Other veterans such as Brandon Dubinsky, Dan Girardi and younger players like Michael Sauer, Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal give the Rangers tremendous depth at most positions.

The Rangers are a team determined to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals and are growing in confidence with each win.

The Flyers will get destroyed by the Rangers at Citizens Bank Park in front of a national television audience, where New York will show the hockey world they are a force to be reckoned with this season.

There are two teams no one will want to face in the NHL playoffs, and those are the Bruins and Rangers, because both of them have elite goaltending and can score goals from several players each game.


Nicholas Goss is a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report and was the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston.