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2012 NHL Winter Classic

The 2012 Winter Classic was the fifth game in what was becoming one of the most popular events in hockey. This edition would pit the visiting New York Rangers against the home team Philadelphia Flyers — two teams that shared one thing in common: a bitter and brutal rivalry.

The first four Winter Classics were played on New Year’s Day. In 2012, however, Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday, so the Philadelphia Flyers-New York Rangers Winter Classic was moved to Jan. 2 to accommodate the NFL schedule.

Citizens Bank Park, home field of the Philadelphia Phillies, was the venue for the 2012 Winter Classic, and on game day it was packed to capacity with just shy of 47,000 fans. The weather cooperated — not always a given for Winter Classics — with temperatures in the mid-40s and just a slight drizzle during the game. Of course, winter being winter, the puck drop was delayed for a couple of hours, until 3:20 p.m., to allow temperatures to cool and clouds to move in and eliminate glare. It was worth the wait, though, because good playing conditions made for a well-played and exciting game.

The Rangers-Flyers Rivalry

Few NHL rivalries are as intense as that of the Flyers and Rangers, which added a lot of excitement to the Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic. The two teams, frankly put, just don’t like each other. Commonly described as “Broadway versus Broad Street,” the rivalry features two teams that are separated by only 100 miles. The teams have different vibes, with Philly fans seeing their Flyers as a blue-collar team, and the Rangers being perceived as more of a sophisticated, white-collar organization. The Flyers usually muscled their way to victory, while the Rangers got the job done with finesse. And both teams and their fan bases have had decades to get fired up about the rivalry:

  • The Flyers and Rangers had been involved in 243 fights in head-to-head play as of December 2018. That tops the fight list for both teams. (Hockeyfights.com.)
  • The teams have engaged in a seesaw battle for dominance since the 1970s. Their regular-season head-to-head win-loss record is just about even. Between 1974 and 1997, the Rangers and Flyers met in the Stanley Cup playoffs 10 times, with the Flyers coming out on top six times and the Rangers four.
  • In their 1974 Stanley Cup semifinal matchup, the Flyers and Rangers racked up a league-record 406 penalty minutes. The Flyers won the series 4-3, and they went on to win the Stanley Cup — the first 1967 expansion team to do so. Their success and their rough play against the Rangers did nothing to endear the New York fans.

The Philadelphia Flyers-New York Rangers Winter Classic Results

The 2012 Winter Classic was just what you’d expect: a hard-fought, close game. Midway through the second period, Brayden Schenn broke the ice (so to speak), scoring for the Flyers to make it 1-0. Two minutes later, Claude Giroux scored to make it 2-0. But less than a minute after that, Michael Rupp scored for the Rangers to make it 2-1. Less than three minutes into the third period, Rupp scored again to tie the game. And less than three minutes later, Brad Richards scored what would be the final goal of the game, giving the Rangers a 3-2 victory.

Receiving the first star for the game was Rupp, on the strength of his two goals. The second star went to Henrik Lundqvist, who turned in a typically terrific game with 34 saves and a .944 save percentage. Giroux took the third star for the Flyers.

And One More Thing …

It would be negligent to recap a Rangers-Flyers game without mentioning penalties. There were a total of eight penalties assessed, for a total of 22 minutes and one penalty shot. Scott Hartnell was assessed two minutes for a cross-check and a 10-minute misconduct penalty at the end of the game.

Love them, hate them, or neutral, a Rangers-Flyers matchup is usually hard-fought and entertaining, and the 2012 Winter Classic was no exception.