Debate: Who will win the 2012 Winter Classic?

On Monday afternoon, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will take center stage at Citizens Bank Park in downtown Philadelphia. These two Eastern Conference powerhouses will take part in a game that has quickly become one of the most popular sporting events in the United States.

The 2012 Winter Classic has the chance to be one of the most explosive games that hockey fans have seen in the game’s short five-year history.

On one side, you have the New York Rangers. This team currently leads the Eastern Conference with 50 points, boasting a 23-9-4 record. They have Henrik Lundqvist in goal, who stands at 16-7-4. The Rangers great record can be attributed to their explosive offense as well.

Forwards Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik have tallied a combined 89 points in 36 games. The Rangers come into this game a dangerous team both offensively and defensively. New York has averaged 2.94 goals-a-game while only allowing 2.06 goals-a-game, which equals out to 107 goals scored and 77 goals allowed.

Here’s a glance at the history of the Winter Classic:

2008PIT 2-1 (SO)
2009DET 6-4
2010BOS 2-1 (OT)
2011WAS 3-1

Looking over at the other side is the Philadelphia Flyers, who currently sit behind the Rangers in the Atlantic Division with 48 points and a 22-10-4 record. In goal for Philadelphia will be the backup goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky. This may come as a shock to some people around the hockey world but starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is 0-3-1 in his last four starts.

Bobrovsky currently stands at a record of 8-2-1, riding a three-start winning streak. The Flyers offense has been as impressive, if not more impressive than the Rangers offense. The craziest part about this Flyers offense is that two of the three top scorers were not expected to have this much success at this point of the season.

First, there is Claude Giroux. Last season, Giroux had 25 goals in 82 games. This season, Giroux has 17 goals in 32 games. He currently has 45 points in 32 games. The other scoring surprise has been Jaromir Jagr, who had not played in the NHL since the 2007-08 season. Jagr currently has 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 32 games. The Flyers offense has scored 123 goals (3.42 per game) while allowing 106 goals (2.89 per game).

As you can see by reading just a little about both teams, this Winter Classic promises to be excellent. Both these teams have a great hate for each other.

Heading into the Winter Classic, the Flyers and Rangers have faced off twice and the Rangers won both of those matchups.

Looking back at the Winter Classic, history bodes well for the Rangers. Three out of four road teams have won the Winter Classic, with Boston in 2010 being the only home team to win.

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Ryan Wolfe
Ryan Wolfe
Administrator/Writer at Sabres Hockey Central.
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