The 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was a lot of fun. It was a great time for close to 50,000 fans who huddled together in a frigid Citizens Bank Park. It provided two wonderful afternoons for orange-and-black-bleeding Flyers fans who camped out in their living rooms, or dens, or guest bedrooms of in-laws to watch the Alumni Game on CSN or the Classic itself on NBC.
But, ultimately, it proved nothing.
Take away the pageantry, the outdoor weather elements, the alumni game, the twice-the-normal-sized-crowd, and it was just game 37 of an 82-game season.
The Rangers got two points for the win—that's all. They didn't get their ticket punched to the Stanley Cup Finals, they didn't win the division, hell, they didn't even clinch a playoff spot with the win.
It was one game. And it was only special because the NHL and NBC deemed it special.
After the game, NBC's Pierre McGuire interviewed Ranger goalie Hendrik Lundqvist and asked where this win ranked in his career. It was ludicrous question to ask. It was full of hyperbole. During any other season of Lundqvist's career, would a sideline reporter from a national network corner him after an early January game and ask where it ranked in his career?
The Flyers played the Rangers and lost for the fifth time in a row. The fact that the game was played outdoors in the wind and cold has no bearing on its importance.
This was a game where the Flyers went up against a team they trailed in the division. For some inexplicable reason, Peter Laviolette chose to go with Sergei Bobrovsky in net. Bobrovsky played okay to start and then showed why he is not an NHL starter by giving up two soft goals to Mike Rupp (who tripled his goal scoring production for the season in one afternoon) and gave up a big, fat juicy rebound to a wide open Brad Richards.
If this game was played indoors last season, or next season, everyone would say it's one of 82, and we played with our backup and only lost by one.
Bring on Chicago.