The Philadelphia Flyers stars smeared eye black to fight the glare on a sunny morning as they skated on a rink constructed on the site of two Fall Classics that underwent a makeover as it shifted into the home of the Winter Classic.
Jagr later strode shirtless around the Philadelphia Phillies’ clubhouse with a baseball bat slung over his shoulder.
Cold, wind, ice. Conditions that usually spoil the enjoyment of a World Series game are on deck for the fifth edition of the NHL’s inside the park extravaganza, this one set for 3 p.m. Monday between the Flyers and the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park.
Amid the HBO cameras and Stanley Cup atmosphere that has infused the game with enough energy to power the rink, a little perspective came Sunday from the Rangers and Flyers in their final practices.
The game was pushed back two hours because of a revised weather forecast that should offer optimal game conditions for players and fans.
The game was scheduled for 1 p.m. The gates will now open at 1 p.m.
Last year’s game at Pittsburgh was moved into prime time because of rain.
Workers stuck Christmas trees and winter firewood on the fake snow around the rink as the finishing touches were sprinkled on a project that started just before Thanksgiving. While fans hoped for winter wonderland conditions, the two-hour shift will at least mean chilly temperatures and less sun.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette made it clear winning the game between two teams jostling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference is more important than putting on a show when he benched slumping goalie – and “24/7′ breakout star – Ilya Bryzgalov for Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bryzgalov, the self deprecating Russian, has failed to live up to the nine year, $51 million contract he signed in June and now finds a spot on the bench for the Winter Classic. But we all saw this coming from the start.
With temperatures expected in the low 40s, Bryzgalov joked he’d sip Earl Grey tea to keep warm. He could be in hot water after revealing before Laviolette’s announcement that Bobrovsky would be in charge of trying to stop Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan instead of him. Laviolette has strict guidelines on how he presents the day’s starting goalie – never a day ahead, rarely at morning skate – and Bryzgalov’s defiance may keep him on the bench.
Laviolette refused to announce a goalie even after he was told Bryzgalov spoiled the news.
“I have great news and even better news,’ Bryzgalov said. “Great news, I’m not playing tomorrow night. Good news, we have a chance to win the game tomorrow night.’
The Flyers counted on Bryzgalov to become the goaltender that would lead them to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1975. He’s 14-8 with a pedestrian 3.01 goals against average, and has allowed five, four and five goals in three of his last four starts.
His dry wit made him a hit on the first three episodes of HBO’s behind the scenes look at both teams before the Classic. His two little children, meanwhile, bickered at a Christmas celebration over who was more Russian.
Bryzgalov admitted Sunday leaving Phoenix for big money and a hockey mad market has made him feel added pressure.
Earlier this season, Bryzgalov said he was “lost in the woods.’
Hopefully not the wood chipper.
Bryzgalov has shone on the HBO series that will whittle 750 hours of footage down to four over its brief run. HBO has pushed back the final episode of “24/7′ to Thursday night because it needed an extra day to put the episode together.
HBO has 12 cameras filming Monday’s game.
The camera crews have remained a silent presence, always filming, never talking or intervening.
In last week’s episode, Bryzgalov’s dog was caught chomping on his son’s arm.
New York Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist
Philadelphia Flyers – Sergei Bobrovsky
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The Flyers have more outdoor Winter Classic players with experience than the New York Rangers, but looking at the matchups between the two clubs points to a different direction.
The Flyers have not found a way to beat the Rangers since last season. They have been shutout or held to 1-2 goals while the Rangers netted between 4-7 goals per game.
The Flyers are playing the hot hand with Bobrovsky, but the Rangers have solved Bob like other teams have done.
For the price and going off of past matchups, you have no choice but to take the underdog in this one. And the only reason they are the underdogs is because the Rangers are on the road in front of Philly fans. But, don’t worry about that, the Rangers will have at least 10,000 fans of their own attending this one.
I’m expecting a high scoring game, with the Rangers winning in overtime 4-3
Rangers vs Flyers OVER 5.5 (+125) (5 UNITS)
New York Rangers +127 (1 UNIT)
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