It's almost time, folks! At 3:00 PM ET the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will battle at Citizens Bank Ballpark. The Rangers and Flyers both won their last game.
The Rangers will be aiming for their 24th win of the season, and here's how they can get that win.
Enjoy the Experience, But Not Too Much- The Winter Classic is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of the players. It's expected that both teams will try to soak in the atmosphere at the beginning of the game, but the coaches expect that won't affect the play. If anyone on the Rangers is skating around looking through the crowd, there is no doubt that they will be clocked. Henrik Lundqvist needs to focus completely on the play, and not the weather or fans himself.
Score First- The Flyers fans will be going absolutely bonkers at the Winter Classic, and they have every right to do so. The Rangers have every right to shut the Flyers fans up, however. Scoring early, and even more importantly scoring the first goal, can help the Rangers take away some of the Flyers momentum.
No Mismatch Fighting- Remember when Mike Rupp said to Jody Shelley that he's "irrelevant out there?" Well, he was right. Shelley will likely try to drop the gloves in the Classic, and players like Brandon Prust and even Brandon Dubinsky, who Shelley called a "weasel," should know better than to fight a player of lesser talent. The Rangers cannot afford to give the Flyers the upper hand.
Follow me after the jump for more.Score On The Power Play- If the power play problem is ever going to be solved, today is the perfect day. The Rangers will need to jump on Sergei Bobrovsky, the starter over Ilya Bryzgalov. The Rangers have had Bryzgalov's number, but since it's Bobrovsky, the Rangers will have to adapt. One of the best ways to adapt is throw the puck on net, and that is something the power play team has not been doing. Fix that, and Bobrovsky will have to have the game of his life.
Avoid Any Huge Off Games- If Henrik Lundqvist has an off day, the chances of the Rangers winning this game dramatically drop. The Rangers need everyone to bring their A games, which means no rookie mistakes, and no reverting back to 2010 form, for some of the players.
Rangers official pregame notes below:
2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic
Monday, Jan. 2, 3:00 p.m.
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Rangers: 23-9-4 (50 pts)
Flyers: 22-10-4 (48 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Jan. 1
The Rangers will face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (3:00 p.m.; TV: NBC; Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio). The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, and rank second in the league overall, with a record of 23-9-4 (50 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Florida Panthers, 4-1, on Friday at BankAtlantic Center, and have won six of their last seven games. New York has posted a record of 20-6-2 since Oct. 29, after beginning the season with a 3-3-2 mark. The Flyers enter the contest with a 22-10-4 (48 pts) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have lost four of their last six games (2-3-1). This will be the second meeting in 10 days between the Atlantic Division rivals, with New York having defeated Philadelphia, 4-2, on Dec. 23 at MSG to take a 2-0-0 series lead. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Florida Panthers on Thursday, Jan. 5, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), to begin a back-to-back set.
RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Please note the Blueshirts do not have a morning skate scheduled prior to tomorrow's contest. Head Coach John Tortorella will be available to the media at 12:50 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park.
* Schedule and availability subject to change
RANGERS vs. FLYERS:
* All-Time: 112-107-37-7 overall (59-47-23-4 at home; 53-60-14-3 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the third of six meetings this season, and the first of three on the road. New York (2-0-0) has out-scored Philadephia, 6-2, in the series, and are 2-6 (33.3%) on the power play in two games. Six different Rangers have tallied a goal against the Flyers this season, while Michael Del Zotto leads the team in scoring with three assists. Henrik Lundqvist is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA, .966 Sv% and one shutout in the season series.
* Last Season: New York was 2-4-0 overall, with a 1-2-0 mark on the road. The Rangers power play was 4-19 (21.1%) in the season series. Ryan Callahan (four goals, one assist) and Derek Stepan (three goals, two assists) tied for the team-high with five points, while Callahan's four goals led the team. Henrik Lundqvist was 2-3-0 with a 2.57 GAA, .908 Sv% and one shutout in five games.
* The Rangers enter the contest with a four-game winning streak against the Flyers, having out-scored Philadelphia, 16-4, over the span
* New York ranks third with a 12-6-2 (26 pts) record on the road; Philadelphia ranks 26th with an 8-5-2 (18 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers have posted a 7-1-0 record vs. Atlantic Division opponents; the Flyers are 4-2-1 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 18-10-3 record with a 2.64 GAA and four shutouts in 33 career regular season contests vs. Philadelphia; Martin Biron is 9-7-2-0 with a 2.18 GAA in 18 career regular season games vs. the Flyers
* Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 23 assists and 31 points in 33 career regular season contests vs. Philadelphia; Ruslan Fedotenko has tallied a team-high, 15 goals in 39 career regular seaosn games vs. the Flyers
* Dan Girardi has tallied more assists/points (19 assists) against the Flyers than any other team during his career
* New York lists three former Flyers on their roster: Martin Biron (2006-07 - 2008-09), Steve Eminger (2008-09), Ruslan Fedotenko (2000-01 - 2001-02)
* Philadelphia lists four former Rangers on their roster: Blair Betts (2005-06 - 2008-09), Jaromir Jagr (2003-04 - 2007-08), Ian Laperriere (1995-96), Jody Shelley (2009-10)
The Rangers are tied for sixth in the NHL with a plus-five rating on special teams [(PPG+SHG)-(PPGA+SHGA)]. New York is 12-64 (18.8%) with the man advantage in the last 18 games. The Blueshirts' penalty kill has held their opponent scoreless in each of their last three games (9-9, 100.0%), and are 34-38 (89.5%) with four shorthanded goals in the last 12 contests. The Rangers are tied for third in the NHL with five shorthanded goals. The Blueshirts have posted a record of 14-1-2 in games when tallying a power play goal, and are 15-4-2 when holding their opponent scoreless on the power play.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in one power play attempt (2:00) on Friday at Florida. New York is tied for 20th overall (21-138, 15.2%) and 28th on the road (7-68, 10.3%). The Rangers are 2-12 (8:51) in five-on-three situations (last – 12/23 vs. PHI), and 0-4 (3:46) when four-on-three (last – 11/3 vs. ANA). Shorthanded goals allowed (3): 12/5 vs. TOR (Steckel); 12/8 vs. TBL (Moore); 12/17 at PHX (Korpikoski).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Panthers scoreless in four shorthanded situations (6:08) on Friday at Florida. New York ranks sixth overall (111-129, 86.0%) and eighth on the road (64-75, 85.3%). The Rangers are 5-6 (3:26) in three-on-five situations (last – 12/17 at PHX), and 0-1 (1:17) when three-on-four (last – 10/7 at LAK). Shorthanded goals for (5): 10/20 at CGY (Prust); 12/8 vs. TBL (Anisimov); 12/10 at BUF (Hagelin); 12/10 at BUF (Callahan); 12/20 at NJD (Hagelin).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation on Friday at Florida. The Rangers are plus-three in 36 four-on-four situations (63:36), and even in one three-on-three situation (0:01). Four-on-four goals for (3): 10/18 at VAN (Gaborik); 10/20 at CGY (McDonagh); 10/27 vs. TOR (Girardi). Four-on-four goals allowed (0).
Two current Rangers have previous experience playing outdoors - Erik Christensen skated in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 with Pittsburgh, and Mike Rupp appeared in last season's Winter Classic, also with Pittsburgh. The road team is 3-0-1 all-time in the NHL Winter Classic.
Today's contest will mark the second time in franchise history the Blueshirts competed in an outdoor game. On September 27, 1991, the Rangers and Los Angeles Kings played in the first outdoor game between two NHL teams. The pre-season match-up took place in the parking lot of Caesars' Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, in front of approximately 14,000 fans. The Kings defeated the Rangers, 5-2.
2,500 WINS CLUB
The Rangers registered their 2,500th win in franchise history with a 4-1 victory at Buffalo on Dec. 10, becoming the fifth franchise in NHL history to reach the milestone along with Boston, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto.
WORLD JUNIOR UPDATE
Rangers' prospects J.T. Miller (USA) and Peter Ceresnak (Slovakia) are currently competing at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Alberta, Canada.
* Miller is tied for fifth on USA in scoring with three points (one goal, two assists), first with a plus-three rating and fifth with 11 shots on goal. Team USA finished fourth in Group B with a 1-0-0-3 record, and is set to face-off against Latvia in a relegation round match-up on Jan. 3.
* Ceresnak has registered two shots on goal in four contests with Slovakia, who advanced to the playoff round after finishing third in Group A with a 2-0-0-2 record. Slovakia will face-off against Finland in a Quarterfinal match-up on Jan. 2.
The Rangers rank among the league leaders in several statistical categories, including...
* 1st in fewest regulation losses (nine)
* 2nd in win% (.694)
* 5th in wins (23)
* T-3rd in regulation/overtime wins (22)
* 2nd in fewest goals against (74)
* 2nd in GAA (2.06)
* 4th in hits (960)
* 3rd in +/- rating (plus-29)
* 4th in goal differential (plus-30)
* The last time the Rangers sat atop the Eastern Conference standings this late into the season was Mar. 15, 1996 (game #68). *courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau
* The Blueshirts' 11-3-2 (24 pts) mark at MSG is their best start at home through 16 games since 1995-96 (12-2-2, 26 pts)
* New York is 7-1-1 when leading after the first period and 15-0-2 when leading after the second
* The Rangers are tied for sixth in the NHL with a .222 win% when trailing after two periods (2-6-1)
* New York leads the NHL with an .786 win% when out-shooting their opponent (11-3-0)
* The Rangers rank second in the NHL when scoring first, posting an 18-1-1 mark (.900 win%) in those contests, and their 18 wins are tied for second in the league
* Henrik Lundqvist enters the contest with a four-game winning streak, posting a 1.00 GAA, .967 Sv% and one shutout over the span
* Lundqvist has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 18 games this season, and is 14-4-1 with a 1.73 GAA, .942 Sv% and two shutouts over the last two months (19 games)
* Lundqvist ranks third in the NHL in GAA (1.91), fourth in Sv% (.937) and is tied for fifth in shutouts (three)
* Martin Biron has held opponents to two or fewer goals in six of his nine starts this season
* Marian Gaborik has tallied eight points (seven goals, one assist) and a plus-eight rating in the last seven games
* Gaborik ranks second in the NHL with 22 goals
* Michael Del Zotto has tallied 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in the last 17 games, including six points (two goals, four assists) in the last five contests
* Del Zotto leads all NHL defensemen and ranks second in the league overall with a plus-25 rating
* Ryan Callahan enters the contest with a four-game point streak (one goal, four assists over the span), and has recorded 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in the last 18 games
* Carl Hagelin has tallied four points (three goals, one assist) in the last three games, and four goals in the last six contests
* Brandon Dubinsky has tallied five points (three goals, two assists) in the last five games
* Stu Bickel has tallied four assists in six games since being recalled on Dec. 18
* Anton Stralman has tallied four assists in the last five games, has posted a plus-nine rating in the last six and has logged 20:00+ of ice time in five of the last eight contests
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
* Brandon Dubinsky: 3 points from 200th NHL career
* Marian Gaborik: 1 assist from 300th NHL career
* Dan Girardi: 3 assists from 100th NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Artem Anisimov: 200th career NHL game (12/30 at FLA)
* Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 36
* Wojtek Wolski (groin, 11/3) - 25
* Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) - 12
* Steve Eminger (shoulder, 12/17) - 6
Total Man-Games Lost: 115
* Dec. 28 - Assigned defenseman Tim Erixon to Connecticut (AHL)
* Dec. 31 - Assigned forward Sean Avery to Connecticut (AHL)