Originally posted on The Hockey Program  |  Last updated 1/2/12

 

There was only one game last night and yet there was a star performance but not by Pekka Rinne as some were expecting.  It was Sergei Kostitsyn with the surprise of the week.  He netted a hat trick in the 5-3 Nashville win over Calgary.  Maybe this was a fitting way to end the week perhaps.  In the only game of the night, not only did it stand more but to that lucky Kostitsyn owner, maybe it tipped the scales in their favor.

Well let's take a look at today's schedule......

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SCHEDULE TIME:

Monday, January 2, 2012 TeamsNotes NY Rangers at Philadelphia 3:00 PM | Gameday
New Jersey at Ottawa 7:30 PM | Gameday
San Jose at Vancouver 8:00 PM | Gameday
Edmonton at Chicago 8:30 PM | Gameday
Colorado at Los Angeles 10:30 PM | Gameday

The headline may be the Winter Classic but the game of the night is in Vancouver tonight at 8pm ET.  Yes the Rangers and Flyers are a big matchup but the firepower will be in Vancouver unless something crazy happens at Citizens Bank Park.  Let's do this a bit different today......and break down the WC game somewhat scientifically.

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Rangers Vs. Flyers

Simply this matchup comes down to goaltending and Henrik Lundqvist has the Flyers' number this year.  Lundqvist has stopped 57 of 59 shots with a 1.00 GAA, a shutout, and two wins against the Flyers.  Today's venue does make for a unique challenge for the Rangers but Lundqvist is as good on the road as at home (.938 sv % vs. .936).  The Philadelphia Flyers will need an outstanding performance from Sergei Bobrovsky.  Bobrovsky has a 8-2-1 record this year with a 2.52 GAA and .914 save percentage.  Remember about .910 these days is an average save percentage for the pretty good goalies out there. 

If you look at straight talent, Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr are a better duo than Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.  However, the surrounding pieces in Philadelphia have not been quite as consistent as they have been in Gotham.  Yes Scott Hartnell has 34 points mostly because of playing on that top line but Dany Briere has only 25 points and one power play goal which has to be mildly disappointing.  Philly has seven players with ten or more goals and on a day like today it comes down to goal scoring.  It is just a question of who on Philadelphia other than the top line makes that impact.

As for the Rangers, it is weird that a team with only three ten goal scorers is balanced but they are balanced on a lower scoring scale.  They need to score two or three goals to win most nights where Philly may need to score four or five goals.  So while the more flashy offensive numbers may come from Philly, Marian Gaborik does lead all players in this matchup with 22 goals heading into today.  Gaborik's shot selection is the biggest reason for his resurgence and he could have a solid afternoon against the Flyers.  The GAS Line is not the only key cog with the emergence of rookie Carl Hagelin who can not only fly but has a nose for the net.  Brad Richards has found a second line he can work with along with Captain Ryan Callahan.  While they may not score lights out, they also can play some defense.

The WC seems to always come down to third period goaltending and normally I would have to side with Henrik Lundqvist but this is kind of a toss up.  When in doubt, the ice becomes the most key component for fantasy owners.  Whomever thrives on the ice early will win this game.  In the end, it seems like Claude Giroux leads the way and gets one early in a 3-2 win over the Rangers in a rather entertaining game.

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We will live tweet the WC and more.  To our friends attending the WC, enjoy the experience and for our fantasy hockey fans, good luck tonight as Week 13 starts.


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