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Maven's Ravin': What I Learned From the Winter Classic

By Stan Fischler
January 2, 2012

THE BETTER TEAM WON: When you're down 0-2 in hostile Philly, you've got to dig to come back. Rangers did and Flyers never were the same after John Tortorella's counterattack.

HENNY'S STILL KING: The difference in the end -- as in penalty shot -- was goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist had it when it counted most.

FLYERS DILEMMA: Sorry, but Paul Holmgren did NOT solve Philly's perennial goaltending failures. Over-priced -- 'way overrated -- Ilya Bryzgalov didn't even start the Super Bowl of Hockey. What's with that?

KUDOS TO THE COMMISH: The Winter Classic is a Gary Bettman creation and every season it gets better. The sold-out stadium; the amazing ambience; the whole deal makes his NHL look so wonderful.

RUPP MAGIC: Some guys just have the KNACK. When he was an unknown rookie, Michael Rupp scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for New Jersey in 2003. His two goals spearheaded New York's arresting rally. Plus, he can fight. What an excellent add to a talent-laden roster!

DESCRIBING THE ZEBRAS: Officiating is a tough business at high speed. Thus, my conclusion is this: the refs work in the third period left me looking for the proper word. How about CURIOUS?

COACHING CONCLUSION: John Tortorella is a better coach than Peter Laviolette. For evidence check out Pierre McGuire's plural reference to Torts' excellent changes in the decisive third period.

WHY BOB? As my buddy, David Kolb, points out, what was Laviolette thinking when he chose his second-string goalie over big bucks Bryzgalov? "There was no reason not to play Bryz," says clever Kolb, "unless Laviolette wanted to show that he's the boss." And that, my fine feathered friend, is not a very good reason.

THIS WILL FOOL YOU: The best player not to have scored a goal is a late candidate for the Calder Trophy as rookie-of-the-year. Yessiree, Bob, that veteran of outdoor games when he skated for the University of Michigan, is none other than Carl Hagelin, who should enjoy a very, very productive second half of the season.

WISE CLOCKWORK: Whomever at the NHL high command decided to delay the Classic's start by two hours gets my Stanley's Ovation. For one thing, it enabled the weather to become near-perfect to play the game. And for another, it gave me more time for my Riverside Park speedwalk!

HEARTENING HURRAY: How could any one not feel good about the return of Marc Staal? Personally, I never thought the Classic would be the appropriate game for his comeback; but, sure enough, the defender delivered!

KING CLAUDE: The pride of Hearst, Ontario also happens to be the best player in Philly and was one of the most impressive Flyers; Claude Giroux.

SMART READER WRITES: Maven-follower, Noam Kogen of Manhattan is right-on when he writes: "Rangers third and fourth lines are better than their Flyers' counterparts. And Paul Holmgren dealing Mike Richards and Jeff Carter added up to two really bad moves."

BULLY MISSING: They may still carry the monicker, "Broad Street Bullies," but the Flyers are considerably less bully-ish without Chris Pronger manning the blue line. Flyers sure didn't put any fear into the Blueshirts.

CURTAIN CALLS: For the Flyers, the Classic ended as a build-up to a letdown. For the entire Rangers team the result occasioned ecstatic curtain calls for all!


Full Winter Classic Coverage
Marc Staal's Return & Future Winter Classics
The Maven's Personal Winter Classics in NYC
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