Flyers / Rangers: Classic Matchup For First
The Philadelphia Flyers (22-10-4) and the New York Rangers (23-9-4) will meet today at Citizen's Bank Park and take part in the fifth annual Bridgestone Winter Classic.
Although the rivalry between the Flyers and Rangers is a familiar one, the confines in which this game will be played is not. There will be some factors in this game that can not be game planned for, one of which is the wind.
Today's forecast is calling for partly sunny skies and a high of 44with 17 mph winds gusting to 28 mph. These types of wind speeds will have an effect on the skating, especially if one team has to skate against it for two periods.
The sun will also pose some challenges for both teams, especially for the goalies. Bright light in the eyes is not the only damage the sun can cause today.
If the sun is bright all day it could cause some slushiness and hinder the cross ice pass, limiting these two teams to quick short passes.
With the game time being moved back to 3:00 pm EST, the players and ice surface will only have to endure it for a short period of time as the sun will set at approximately 4:47 pm EST but should leave the ice in a shadow my game time.
The other wrinkle to the ice condition was the rain that fell in Philadelphia last night. Will the sun cooperate and hide most of the day giving the refrigeration units a fair chance in to present these teams with acceptable playing conditions? We will soon find out.
Just A Thought
Playing street hockey all my life in outdoor recreation leagues you learn how to game plan for these types of conditions. In these leagues when you are the home team you get to choose the goal you want to defend for two periods.
When sun, rain (puddles), and wind are factors an over matched home team may grab enough of an advantage to win just by choosing the correct end to defend before the puck drops.
Would this type of rule work for these Winter Classic Matchups?
The Flyers have not fared real well against the Rangers lately as they have dropped the first two matchups this season. They were shutout in their first meeting, 2-0, and lost 4-2 in their most recent visit to New York.
The Flyers have to lace them up tight today as this game is a battle for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, a position the Rangers stole from them when they last met.
The Flyers have been having a hard time scoring on Henrik Lundqvuist (16-7-4) and will need to solve him early on in this game. The Flyers are 14-0-1 when leading after the first period while the Rangers are 4-5-2 while trailing after one.
One move that may have an effect on the Flyers scoring is the announcement that Sergei Bobrovsky (8-2-1) will start in net today.
The team seems to be playing better in front of him than they are when Ilya Bryzgalov is manning the net. For Peter Laviolette this is purely a move to give his team the best chance to win at this moment in time.
He did not make his decision based on the players salary or the fact that he was the team's big free agent signing this off-season. It is a bold move on a day when NHL will be in the national spotlight, but will it be the right move?
Will the mind wondering Bryzgalov be mentally lost in the woods again? Only this time not find his way out.
Step Up Players
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