Saturday, May 14, 2011

NHL Winter Classic Coming to Philly

The NHL Winter Classic is coming to the greatest sports city in America . The Philadelphia Flyers will host the outdoor classic at Citizens Bank Park with the likely opponent of the New York Rangers. Rumor has it that the NFL has stepped in and requested that the NHL move the game that is traditionally played on New Years Day. New Years falls on a Sunday this year and the NFL does not want the game to conflict with their scheduling or fans. Currently the NHL is considering moving the game to Monday or playing it on Saturday, New Years Eve. The New Years Eve idea seems to be the best option and I expect that if the game is moved that will be the day it is moved to. The game would also be a prime time event starting at 5:00 pm, which would lead right into the New Years Eve coverage; it seems like a better time slot then even the original scheduled date of Sunday.
The Winter Classic started in 2008 being played outdoors and bringing hockey back to its roots. The outdoor venue in the middle of winter has an odd effect on fans, causing them to get even more excited then normal when it comes to hockey. As every sports fan knows, the fans in Philadelphia have a reputation for being over the top and harsh at times. An outdoor hockey game, in winter, will bring the most out of a great fan base and a ruckus crowd should be expected.
This is not the Flyers first time in the classic. They played in the 2010 Winter Classic, hosted by the Boston Bruins. The Flyers were unable to come away with a victory, but the game lived up to its billing as a classic and the Bruins came away with a 2-1 overtime victory. The Flyers are the only away team to lose the Winter Classic so far; out of 4 games the away teams have won 3. In 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in New York , the Sabres lost the Penguins 2-1 in a game that was decided in a shootout. In 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago the Red Wings defeated the host Blackhawks in a barn burner 6-4 game. Last season at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , the Penguins lost to the Capitals 3-1.
There will be a few firsts for this Winter Classic.

  1. The first time that hockey fans will be able to get a cheese steak at an outdoor NHL game.
  2. The first time the Liberty Bell at the stadium will ring to signal a goal instead of a homerun.
  3. The first time the Philadelphia fans will be able to throw snowballs at an opposing hockey team.
  4. The NHL will have to make sure that the lights from the 7,000 square foot video screen at Citizens Bank Park don't melt the ice.
  5. The first time that the Flyers will play at home in front of a championship flag that is not from the 1970's.
The NHL has made a great decision in bringing this game to Philadelphia . There will be no problems selling out Citizens Bank Park and the all around atmosphere will be electric. Let's just hope the game lives up to its venue.

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