There are a lot of interesting stories and intrigues surrounding the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, but perhaps the most significant revelation is the winner of the 2013 Stanley Cup. Before we get to the stone cold prediction however lets first examine some of the interesting bylines of this years contest and a brief recap of the action.
After the success of last years 24/7, series HBO has again been filming behind the scenes footage of this year’s Winter Classic participants for the month leading up to the game.
In addition to competing with Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers and Martin Scorsese for most F-bombs in a given minute, the series is also a fascinatingly entertaining look into NHL locker rooms, and the on and off ice lives of the players.
One of the “breakout stars” of the series is the enigmatically charming goaltender of the Philadelphia Flyers Ilya Bryzgalov who was at the center of a minor controversy this week as he was benched for the Winter Classic in favor of backup goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Apparently Flyers head Coach Peter Laviolette was trying to send a message to the star goaltender: “Focus less on the insignificance of you place in the Universe and focus more on the significance of a vulcanized rubber puck headed towards you face!”
I had the misfortune of trying to see The Muppets matinée on a day when all the kiddies in town were out of school, and all of the hung-over parents had the same idea as me. Needless to say the showing was sold out, so I therefore saw Martin Scorsese’s non-profanity laden new film Hugo which was an excellent and touching tribute to one of Scorsese’s passions, film heritage and preservation. All of this preamble is to note that I was late getting home and missed the first period of the Winter Classic which was reportedly fairly uneventful. The only highlights of any interest were Jaromir Jagr pulling his groin and Marc Staal making his return to the ice for the NY Rangers after getting concussed (yes, that’s a word now) by his brother last year.
By the second period of the game the teams were apparently over the unfamiliarity of the outdoor venue, and the relentless attack of the Flyers became too much for the Rangers and their goaltender Hendrik Lundqvist. After keeping the puck pinned in the Rangers end for what seemed like minutes at a time the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn netted his first goal of the year which was soon followed by a pretty top-shelf goal from the league’s top scorer Claude Giroux.
The Rangers haven’t climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference by being slouches though, and it only took the gritty Mike Rupp thirty seconds to respond to Giroux’s goal with one of his own and a much-needed momentum change for the Rangers. Rupp’s celebration, a bare handed salute in the Jaromir Jagr fashion, was enough to roil the Flyers’ Scott Hartnell into some mid-ice niceties with Rupp in which, according to the game announcers, he scolded Rupp for mocking the “future hall of famer”. In typical Hartnellian fashion retribution was lacking until the game was over at which time he was ejected for trying to get some cheap shots in on Rupp.
The third period started with a real statement from Rupp however who netted the equalizer just under three minutes in. Brad Richards continued his rebound season of success with the Rangers scoring what would be the eventual game winner on a nicely elevated shot. The game was not without an exciting finish as with less than twenty-second left a lesser know hockey rule was enforced when Ranger defenceman Ryan McDonagh covered the puck with his hand while in the goalie crease and a Penalty Shot was awarded to the Flyers. Daniel Briere didn’t have enough moves to get the puck past Lundqvist though and the fate of the 2011 Winter Classic was sealed.
Flyers fans should take heart however as they may have lost the Winter Classic (again) but they will in all likelihood be the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions. You heard it here first folks, the prediction is in and here’s the inside scoop. After watching the game I did a little research on the previous games played and an interesting trend emerged. In 2008 the Winter Classic was between the Penguins and Sabres and in 2009 the Penguins won the Stanley cup. In 2009 the Classic was between the Blackhawks and Red Wings, in 2010 between the Bruins and the Flyers, and the next two Stanley Cup champs were the Hawks and Bruins respectively. Unfortunately, even further research on Wikipedia showed that my idea was not an original one. I hate you Wikipedia! The author goes on to say that the team wearing the dark jersey in the Classic has won the Cup these past three years. That means the Penguins should win it all this year, not inconceivable at this point, and the Flyers, if the trend continues, should be hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2013.