Monday, January 2, 2012
Winter Classic instant analysis
Instant analysis of the 2012 Winter Classic:
1. The 2012 Winter Classic came down to the resiliency of the New York Rangers. After going down two goals, Mike Rupp scored twice to even things before Brad Richards scored the game winner. Rupp, who played in last year’s Winter Classic, said Sunday that he was more relaxed this year because he knew what to expect, and that experience paid off for him.
2. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette didn’t get the performance he expected from Sergei Bobrovsky when he went with his backup in net over $51 million netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. Richards was able to score the winner when Bobrovsky couldn’t control a rebound.
3. On the opposite end, Henrik Lundqvist was solid for the Rangers. Even after giving up two goals in the second period, Lundqvist recovered to give his team a chance to win. And with 19.6 seconds left in the game, Lundqvist stopped Danny Briere’s penalty shot to seal the victory.
4. The Flyers also missed Jaromir Jagr in the game. Jagr left the ice in the first period, and while he returned to the game, the 39-year-old played only 7:09 in the entire game and spent the entire third period on the bench. Hard to imagine a healthy Jagr wouldn’t have made a difference in a one-goal game. There has not been any word on Jagr’s status.
1. Finally some offense. After a scoreless period, we got three goals in the second period. Seconds before Brayden Schenn opened the scoring, I mentioned that we needed a greasy goal to get things going. And that's what the game got when Schenn went to the net hard and put in a rebound. Oh, and it was his first career NHL goal. Just another Hollywood moment with the HBO cameras rolling.
2. Claude Giroux has been a threat the entire game, looking more comfortable out there than most of the other skaters. Of course, when you grew up in Hearst, Ontario, a town of 6,000 people 10 hours north of Toronto, you get used to playing hockey in frigid temperatures. Today's weather here in Philly is balmy compared to that. Giroux electrified Citizens Bank Park with a beautiful backhand deke on Henrik Lundqvist that made it 2-0.
3. Just moments later Mike Rupp got the Blueshirts on the board and quieted the Flyers' crowd. Rupp's wrist shot from the high slot beat Sergei Bobrovsky. The icing on the cake was Rupp's goal celebration -- a Jaromir Jagr glove-off salute. Got to love it.
4. Speaking of Jagr, he played only one shift early in the second period before taking a permanent spot on the bench, clearly in some sort of discomfort. He's already battled a groin issue earlier in the season, but at this point the Flyers have not announced what was ailing him.
5. The period featured more physicality. Brandon Dubinsky delivered a big check on Marc-Andre Bourdon, and overall both teams finished their checks with the regularity of an indoor game. They don't like each other, and it shows.
1. The Flyers outshot the Rangers 12-9 in the first period and had by far the better of the scoring chances. The Claude Giroux-Scott Hartnell-Jaromir Jagr line was the most impressive forward unit for either team, with the three creating a handful of dangerous scoring opportunities. But Henrik Lundqvist has been solid, and most of the chances, outside of a muffed one-timer from Jakub Voracek to the left of Lundqvist, have come from fairly far out.
2. Speaking of Jagr, the five-time scoring champ who has been such a compelling story this season after playing the last three years in the Kontinental Hockey League, left the ice with about three minutes left in the first period and did not return. We could see the big winger walking down the rubber pathway to the locker room, and he didn’t seem to be injured, but that’s something to keep an eye on heading into the second period. There was no update from the Flyers’ PR staff. Looks like he's on the bench for the second period.
3. The big story leading up to the Winter Classic was the decision by Philadelphia head coach to bench starter Ilya Bryzgalov in favor of youngster Sergei Bobrovsky. The Rangers did not test Bobrovsky severely in the first period, although with a couple of chances they seemed to be trying to beat the netminder high. The goaltending story isn’t going away for the Flyers, but Bobrovsky has been terrific with an 8-2-1 record. As for Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year, $51 million deal in the offseason, he joked on Sunday that he would be bringing a thermos to keep warm on the bench. No sign of the thermos on Monday.
4. For outdoors play, the ice is a constant factor. Rangers forward Mike Rupp, who played in last year’s outdoor game while with the Pittsburgh Penguins, talked about needing to get a lead because as the day goes on the tape-to-tape passes become more difficult to complete. Still, this surface is best of the five Winter Classic games by far.
5. Obviously, getting that lead will be key as the game moves along (there’s a bold statement), but the Flyers looked more comfortable in their passing game, and the Rangers will need to find a way to get more pucks on net and to create more chances. The Rangers had a brief power play late in the first that was cut short by a Brad Richards penalty. The Flyers, likewise, could not capitalize on their resulting power play, truncated as it was.