Archive | 12:01 AM

Rangers Have A Bit Of Winter Classic Experience

26 Dec

It has been only two years since the Flyers were in a Winter Classic, but the number of players left may surprise you. Only seven of the Flyers remain from the 20 that dressed for the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park. The Rangers haven’t been in a Winter Classic yet, but they have a bit of experience too.

Mike Rupp played in the 2011 Winter Classic and Erik Christensen played in the first installment in 2008, both with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you count family, they get two more games of experience with Marc Staal’s younger brother Jordan, who played in both.

“He says he loved both experiences,” said the middle brother of three Staals in the NHL.

“We play in front of big crowds, 18,000 people, 19,000 people — I don’t know what it is, 46,000 or something — to be able to do that as a hockey player is not something that everyone gets to do. I think that aspect of it is pretty cool. Just the attention is for the one game. There’s big games during the season, but this one obviously has everyone’s eyes on it. It’s pretty cool that way.”

Staal hasn’t suited up for a game this season because he’s still dealing with the aftereffects of a concussion he sustained after taking a hit from his brother Eric in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 22. While he has resumed skating with the team, he hasn’t been cleared for contact yet and likely won’t play in the Winter Classic.

“I thought about it, but it’s not something that I’m gonna step into if I’m not ready,” said Staal. “It’s just not worth it to put yourself in a position like that if you’re not ready, physically or mentally. Obviously it sucks that I might not get a crack at it, but it is what it is.”

Christensen was a teammate of Max Talbot, who brings two games of Winter Classic experience to the table.

“That seems like a long time ago. I remember the game, but I remember the day before game,” said Christensen. “Just being out on the ice, coming out onto the ice for the first time wearing tuques.

“It was really just a different feeling. You didn’t feel like a professional hockey player. You felt like a kid again and that was probably my best memory of it.”

When next Monday rolls around, neither the Flyers nor the Rangers will be used to playing on the ice at Citizens Bank Park. Many of the players haven’t played outdoors since they were young kids. But at least both sides will have war stories from Winter Classics past to paint a bit of a picture.