Orange & Black Breakdown
by Marc Siciliano on 01/04/12 at 05:55 PM ET
Even though the weekend’s festivities may have ended with a rather somber come-from-behind victory for the New York Rangers, both the city of Philadelphia and the Flyers organization should look back on this weekend with a sense of immense pride. Since the weekend has come and gone and we’ve all had a chance to digest, its time to look back and dissect this classic weekend for the sport of hockey.
A great moment for too many reasons
Join me for my thoughts and pictures from the weekend that was, and share your favorite 2012 Winter Classic moment after the jump!
Before it all Began..
The Host City and Venue
What more can be said about the city and the park that really haven’t been said already? Once you get over the fact that the sun pushed the start times back a bit, the weather actually turned out nearly perfectly. The wind on Monday was pretty fierce, but overall the clear skies held pretty strongly and the official game-time temperature was a rather high 41.1 degrees. The only sign of precipitation during the festivities? A light snowfall that began around the 2nd period of the game on Monday night - talk about classic.
The city of Philadelphia can be a pretty amazing thing if you aren’t catching it on a bad day. After talking to a lot of friends that live in the area, it’s safe to say that the entire city was completely embracing the event. I noticed a lot of Rangers fans that were having a fantastic time taking in the scene while surrounded by orange and black, and there was no shortage of Rangers vs Flyers friendly shinny games in the parking lots throughout the weekend. Simply put, good times seemed to be had by all, and it stemmed from the passion that Philadelphia and its citizens have become synonymous for exuding.
I might be bias, but I think I saved the best for last – what a showcase for Citizen’s Bank Park. I eluded to it’s brief but permanent place in Philadelphia folklore once before, but this weekend has cemented it’s status as the best sports venue in Philadelphia right now in my opinion. Maybe it was the true marvel of what had unfolded in the middle of the field, but everything inch of hockey-induced charm came just as naturally to the venue as it does when doused in Phillies’ red. Seeing the Harry Kalas statue surrounded by Flyers fans and Ashburn Alley filled with more orange dots than a Florida’s Natural factory was something I’ll never be able to shake when I walk that concourse in the future. The memories made based on Citizen’s Bank Park alone seemed to be worth the cost of admission to any fan that crossed into the threshold throughout the weekend.
Winter Classic Pregame
Going forward it would seem tough not to keep focusing on baseball stadiums for these events. Though it presents some weird sightlines, it seemed to allow for a more intimate experience between the fans and the playing surface. CBP is one of the smaller ballparks in the league, but it’s tough to see how a football stadium could match this. I’ve never experienced it in person elsewhere, but this was also the general consensus in the press box amongst those around me.
An additional added bonus to limiting the venues to ballparks? Less chance of schedule interference. My initial thought always seemed to prefer the football stadiums because of their natural shape, but the pro’s seem to be stacking up in favor of ballparks going forward.
Alumni Game - Start of the 2nd
Being at the alumni game was an experience that will be tough to top. I already broke down the event once earlier this weekend, but now that all is said and done I can say this was my favorite part of the whole process. Maybe it was because as a younger Flyers fan I’ve only had the chance to romanticize so many of these iconic figures, but actually seeing them in action is something I will never be able to shake. Watching Lindros to LeClair again reminded me of some great childhood Flyers memories, but once Bernard Parent (as he appeared in the official NHL scoresheet that day) stoned Duguay on that breakaway, my day was complete.
But don’t just take my word for it. If you haven’t already seen it, go read Bill Meltzer’s take on the event. He’s been around for years (in a good way, of course), and it shows in an event like this for all the right reasons.
Jagr at Practice
As for the actual game vs the Rangers on Monday, it will be remembered for something far greater than a regular season game to the 46,967 in attendance, but it will also be always remembered as a loss. However, the overall outcome shouldn’t come with as much shock as the way this victory was inevitably achieved – this Rangers team might just be the team to beat right now in the East.
Winter Classic - Giroux Scores
Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the league right now. Boasting a consistently supreme level of play, there is just no doubt that when you are facing him it’s going to be a long night. Everyone in the building knows this too, only adding to the aura of difficulty that surrounds this heavy Vezina favorite. He’s played well in the past, but he finally has a team in front of him that is grinding away on a nightly basis.
What a Photo.. What a Save..
I spoke with some good friends who were Rangers fans about why this might be the case, and they all pointed straight to their captain, Ryan Callahan. His gritty effort night in and night out sets the tempo for the
blueshirts, and everyone else has joined in. If they continue to grind out games like this, it will be very difficult to face these Rangers in a battle to four come April. Luckily, this three game losing streak vs the Rangers is coming during the first half of the season. This could prove to be very useful ammunition as the season drags on, and it’s clear the Flyers will need all the help they can muster to break through versus the Rangers.
If I had to nitpick…
While there is so much to love about the event, there are some things that I think could be improved upon going forward. For having so many people in the same area for a weekend of hockey, you would think they might be able to manage so much more than just 120 minutes of hockey. Yes, I can understand you want the ice to be in pristine condition for the game itself, but it just seemed like such a waste of a venue. Maybe it’s because of the extra day between events, but I thought the NHL missed out on a huge opportunity to do something more with the setting and crowd.
Look at all this potential…
How would I personally go about changing this? Well, since this event is so much more than just the two teams that it will ultimately include, I think they might be best off expanding the entire weekend into the All Star event and capping it off with the game itself. Though this would remove the privilege of hosting the All Star game for a certain city every year, it might be a great way to help add some flair to an event that upgrades for gimmicks as much as EA’s NHL series. Think of an alumni vs NHL all-stars skills competition and tell me you don’t get excited at the thought of seeing guys like #66 get the chance to show off those hands again in a breakaway contest. Even if it isn’t an All Star game, the ice just beckons to be used for more than 6 periods of action.
When taking everything into consideration, this was one of the best hockey related experiences of my life. Changes can and will surely be made, but the overall product is obviously the highlight of the hockey calendar for all the right reasons. I hope everyone enjoyed the event as well – what was your favorite part?
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About Orange & Black Breakdown
The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these
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This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!
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