Friday, December 26, 2014

The deluxe Winter Classic experience

Rangers 3, Flyers 2

The deluxe Winter Classic experience

Flyers fans packed Citizens Bank Park to cheer on the Flyers in the Winter Classic on Monday. (David Maialetti  / Staff Photographer)
Flyers fans packed Citizens Bank Park to cheer on the Flyers in the Winter Classic on Monday. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

Near the end of the second period, snow began to fall lightly on Citizens Bank Park. It was dancing on the wind snow, snow globe snow, and the sellout crowd saw it and took pictures of it and cheered it and accepted it as a sign that they had, indeed, been ticketed for the deluxe NHL Winter Classic experience.

Cynics see this as a celebration of the two great modern American passions -- for spectacle and for merchandise -- and they are not entirely wrong. They also were not here to witness it. Because long after the final score fades from memory -- it was Rangers 3, Flyers 2 -- people around here will recall the entire weekend, from the sold-out alumni game on Saturday, to the waves of tributes to former Flyers greats interspersed throughout, to the orange coloring of a building normally bathed in red, to the Liberty Bell ringing when the Flyers scored, to the little kids playing on the adjacent rink, to the snow.

Oh, and this: with 19.6 second left, the Flyers’ Daniel Briere was stopped on a penalty shot by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist after the Rangers were called for covering up a puck in the crease. The ice wasn’t good at the end of the period, and Briere appeared to be extra careful just to control the puck on his approach, and he shot the puck into Lundqvist. That memory will endure -- of 46,967 people on their fact, yelling or gasping of some combination of both as Briere began his approach -- as will so much more.

It is a long season, after all. Especially now, it can seem even longer. How anyone could be against an event that a) automatically conveys the label of “special” on it and its participants, b) sells out easily, c) draws outsized ratings for a hockey game in January, and d) is something the players genuinely seem to enjoy. Especially d).

More coverage
 
Flyers fall to Rangers, 3-2, in Winter Classic
 
Frequent Flyers: Bettman: 'The entire city did a great job'
 
Full coverage: 2012 NHL Winter Classic
 
Frequent Flyers: Classic by the numbers
 
BoopStats: Carrying on after the Classic
 
Frequent Flyers: Analyzing the Bryzgalov bombshell
 
Follow the Flyers: On your iPhone, Android phone

With that, it is the experience that will endure. Tomorrow, you can begin fretting about the goaltending, and about how the Flyers can’t beat the Rangers.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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