It’s difficult not to acknowledge the Winter Classic these days.
With the annual outdoor event slowly creeping up on us, the collective mind of the hockey world is obsessed with the outdoor showdown that will be taking place in Philadelphia on January 2nd.
With all the networks gearing up their coverage, Friday night’s game between the Flyers and Rangers had a different tone than a game in late December typical has had in the past.
While all the major networks played up the fact that it was the final meeting prior to the Classic, many forgot to mention that the game was more than just a hype machine for the mega event a little over a week away.
This game also decided who would go into the holiday break with control of first place in the Atlantic Division as well as first place in the Eastern Conference.
With the Winter Classic right around the corner, the Philadelphia Flyers (21-8-4) received a big boost Wednesday night in Dallas when Claude Giroux returned to the lineup after missing four games with a concussion.
His presence in the lineup is a must and tonight will be a huge test for him and the Flyers as they head to New York to take on the New York Rangers (20-8-4).
In their last match up in New York, a 2-0 loss, Zac Rinaldo and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves four seconds into the game. With the HBO cameras trailing these teams like the paparazzi, it is only natural for the players to want to put on a show.
There is no reason to think tonight will be any different.
As the Winter Classic alumni game grows nearer, fans in Philadelphia anxiously await.
Bobby Clarke and Eric Lindros will play on the same ice. Bernie Parent will be between the pipes. Mark Howe will skate on the blue line.
The excitement to see all the greats in orange and black has even overshadowed the actual game for some.
One of the participants feels the same way.
Brian Propp, who was drafted by the Flyers in 1979 and played 790 games for Philadelphia over 10 years, can’t wait for puck to drop.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Propp said. “You look at the players who are going to be involved, it’s a tremendous amount of great hockey players. I think that the competition will get a little intense; I’m looking forward to it.”
When the announcement of the alumni game was made, there were plenty of questions about who would be included on the team. One name that was a shoe-in from the start was Propp’s.
Since 2008, the Winter Classic has proven to be one of the most anticipated events of the NHL calendar year.
However, a newer component to the Classic has emerged, one that may actually be just as exciting as the game itself.
HBO’s all-access series, “24/7” began it’s coverage of the Winter Classic last season when it filmed the build-up to the outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
This season’s series will do the same, except this time the focus will be upon the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers as the two teams gear-up for their outdoor event at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park on January 2.
The series made its premiere on Wednesday night and did not disappoint.
With the Flyers playing only one game between last Saturday’s 9-2 route of Columbus and tomorrow’s matinee in Sunnydale, FL against the Panthers, it was a week filled with news rather than actual hockey.