PHILADELPHIA -- The hype leading up to this year's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park has been unbelievable. The attention the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have received has been Stanley Cup-like, as the entire hockey world, as well as the outside sporting world, prepares for what has become an annual main event to bring in the new year. Head coach John Tortorella has done his best to keep his team out from under the microscope despite the HBO cameras following their every move and the additional media now suddenly crowding their stalls in the locker room. So far, considering how the team has performed to this point, he's done an excellent job of that.
However, like the coach admitted in his meeting with the media on Sunday, the hoopla surrounding his team and today's outdoor game is like no other his boys have ever faced before. He believes his team will not be distracted, but there must be some concern that the atmosphere may take over and veer the team in the wrong direction.
That being said, the Rangers caught a slight break on Sunday when a sudden goaltending controversy emerged on the Flyers end of things. As you should know by now, normal starter Ilya Bryzgalov went against team policy by announcing to the media that he would not be getting the start in today's Winter Classic, and then followed that up with a string of outlandish comments expressing his "feelings" on the decision. In a way, Bryzgalov made the entire scenario into a joke of sorts, especially when he later tweeted a picture of his now infamous thermos. This side-story quickly became the talk of the hockey world and turned the attention to the Flyers locker room, alleviating the Rangers of all the extra eyes at least for the time being.
The Rangers, meanwhile, took the ice yesterday afternoon for a very business-like practice in which those on hand reported coach Tortorella put the players through as in-depth of a practice as he normally would if the team were preparing for a normal game at their practice facility. The players went about their business, Tortorella was short and sweet in his post-practice meeting with the media, simply stating that his team's lineup would remain unchanged for today, and they then packed it up and left the stadium to gather for Sunday evening's team meal.
Peter Laviolette's club, on the other hand, held a much less serious practice in which the players were sort of soaking in the experience (even though many of them have went through it before), and then Laviolette was faced with question upon question about the goaltending controversy that had been created behind closed doors in the morning. Compared to the Rangers' day, the Flyers' was not routine, normal or as straightforward as they maybe had hoped it would be.
For this reason, the Rangers have sort of flew under the radar here in Philadelphia, while the Flyers are entering this afternoon's contest with a whirlwind of negative attention already surrounding them. The Blueshirts will obviously welcome any advantage that is presented to them with open arms, and in my mind, what went on with the Flyers yesterday most definitely favors the Rangers and their mindset going into the big game.
* Yesterday during the Rangers practice, back-up goaltender Marty Biron wore a small camera atop his mask while on the ice. NHL.com put together a quick collection of clips from Marty's perspective during practice:
* Hit the streets of Philadelphia last night (quickly learned why it is so often considered "Filthy" Philly), and apparently picked the right place for dinner. Upon the many members of the hockey world who showed up at the downtown steakhouse for a bite were Ranger legend Adam Graves, Ed Olczyk, Ruslan Fedotenko, and there at the table beside me was today's starting goalie for the Flyers, Sergei Bobrovsky. "Bob" showed up by himself, had a very quiet dinner by himself and, I'm not going to lie, looked to be a little nervous. At one point he made a phone call in which he had a concerned tone of voice. I'd tell you what he was saying, but unfortunately I cannot decode Russian.
Just a tidbit I thought was worth sharing. Check my Twitter for pictures and more.
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella enjoyed that his team rallied to win the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 3-2, but that did not stop Tortorella from commenting on the questionable officiating down the stretch of the game. Via Puck Daddy:
"I'm not sure if NBC got together with the refs," said Tortorella, after the Rangers' 3-2 victory on Monday, regarding...
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella thought Monday's NHL Winter Classic was anything but - at least as far as the officiating was concerned.
In the wake of New York's 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park, Tortorella blasted the officiating, calling it "disgusting" in the final period.
Tortorella went so far as to suggest that NBC Sports...
Courtesy of ASAP Sports:
Q. Can you explain the changes in personnel you made and the effect you thought that had on the game?
JOHN TORTORELLA: Well, we were still?? no one in particular. And again, big problem with our game, the first half of that game, was just not having the puck; they had the puck more.
So we just felt we needed to try to change something, and I’m...
New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will not be making his season debut in the Winter Classic.
Rangers coach John Tortorella ruled the 24-year-old blue-liner out of Monday's game against the Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park.
"Nothing has changed," Tortorella said of Staal, who did practice on Sunday. "Just because we skated...
One of the most memorable moments of the HBO 24/7 series up until this point was the relationship between John Tortorella and Liam, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. During yesterday's Winter Classic TheNYRBlog reader PJ, who was also my Winter Classic Correspondent, had a chance meeting with the 24/7 star and was able to take a pic with him.PJ said Liam was the coolest and he...
It's a Tuesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Stars: Boyd Devereaux, formerly of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, talks NHL, Winter Classic and his new gig.
• In which Marek and Wysh discuss the 2012 NHL Winter Classic.
• Daniel Carcillo is in big, big trouble...
Via New York Rangers ? New York Post
January 04, 2012
John Tortorella’s outburst after he disagreed with some of the officiating late in the Rangers’ 3-2 win in the Winter Classic in Philadelphia could end up costing the coach.
Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said the matter was under review yesterday.
Campbell will follow up on the Rangers...
Via New York Rangers ? New York Post
January 01, 2012
No longer can the Winter Classic be considered a distraction.Finally, after months of anticipation, the next game the Rangers play is tomorrow afternoon’s annual outdoor game, being held at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia against the Flyers. “We’re really looking forward to it,” coach John Tortorella said...
From Katie Strang at ESPNNewYork.com:
New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will make his season debut in the Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Coach John Tortorella delivered the surprising news just hours before the league’s annual outdoor game, after telling reporters Sunday that Staal would not be available to play.
While it was great to hear that Staal is...
PHILADELPHIA — On Sunday, John Tortorella insisted his New York Rangers' lineup was going to be the same. No Marc Staal, who hadn't played since April 23 because of post-concussion syndrome. Monday afternoon, that all changed. Staal will make his season debut on the grand stage of the Winter Classic ...
You know it was a horrendously reffed game when the winning coach makes a point of mentioning that it almost looked like it was rigged. I agree with him.
Really that is all I could take away from this game, how blatantly it looked like the refs were trying to get the Flyers back in the game. The non call on Gabby, the unbelievable delay of game call, the call on Cally while the...
PHILADELPHIA -- Between the active rosters for the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, only 11 players have participated in a previous Winter Classic game.
For the rest, it'll be a new, exciting experience, but as the players and coaches know, two points are at stake -- a fact that's amplified by the current Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings with the...
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