My (Unexpected) Trip to The Winter Classic

Briere_shot_lundqvistPhoto: Getty

I wasn’t supposed to go to the Winter Classic. 

I wanted to, but I wasn't supposed to.

I didn’t have tickets, nor a credential. I’m not a season-ticket holder, didn’t win any sort of lottery or contest, and despite running the best sports blog in Philly (your words, not mine), wasn’t credentialed. That last one is mostly because – generally speaking… – teams don’t appreciate when you write about who Max Talbot may or may not have fucked at Pat Burrell’s old condo… and because you can cover an event more effectively from behind a computer screen (really).

Anyway, it was 2 p.m., Monday, and I wasn’t going. I was seated on the couch, geeked out in a way that would have made Ace Ventura jealous on his visit to Shady Acres: pom poms, rosy cheeks, face paint, Winter Classic gnome, and performing hockey movements in slow-motion instant replay– only two of those are true. Ms. CB was frightened, I was ready to go… yet I was still checking our own ticket site to see if there was anything available for below $350– there wasn’t. 

Then MVP CB reader (she already won for 2012) Victoria, mother of Pocket Utley, who was featured on site here, came through. She sent me an email – one that was sent an hour earlier, but didn't find its way to my screen right away thanks to Verizon service at CBP – saying that a member of her small group, whom I’m dubbing the most awesomely generous person in the world, had a last-minute ticket available… for free. 

I quickly ditched the pom poms, fuck me smile and Jose The Gnome, and was on my way to Citizens Bank Park, breaking a Delco to CBP record in the process.

I arrived, met Victoria and The Saint at McFadden's, and we got to our seats, which were perfectly positioned high-above the Rangers' goal, just as the opening faceoff was about to take place.  

Perfect. Timing. 

image from mobilwi.typepad.com

The scene, as was experienced on Saturday for the Alumni Game, was fantastic. The NHL has done many things right over the past few years. They are still a distant fourth – nationally – in terms of popularity, but they’ve run their league better than any other since returning from the lockout. The Winter Classic is a shining example of that. No stone is left unturned, no detail ignored. The entire field, not just the two ice rinks, looked great. The ballpark looked great. And the blue banners covering most inward facing areas of the park* provided a perfect contrast to the white field and mostly orange stands. 

*I’ve been told by several folks that the NHL paid a huge sum (one told me as much as $2 million) to cover all Phillies and MLB advertisements scattered around the park. All but the Budweiser ad in right field, that is.

Even the infield, where the league uncovered Roy’s pulpit…  [via reader Jeff

Screen Shot 2012-01-03 at 11.04.36 PM

… and home plate, looked like it belonged in a Canadian forest, not Philadelphia. 

So, yeah, aesthetics– check.

Now onto the game itself.

We’ve talked enough about Bryz, who settled in for his nap in that warm winter’s cap. Let’s turn our attention to everything else.  

The first period played out as expected, with both teams feeling each other out and not taking too many chances… which was perfect because it gave everyone in attendance a chance to pinch themselves and take in what they were experiencing.

Onto the second…

Thanks to readers (@rowleytowels) and (@joey_buckets) we have the timing of our first obligatory cheesesteak shot from the folks at NBC: 14:40 of the second period. That’s impressive– I had the the over-under (before-after?) at 3:22 of the first. Nice to see the peacock can hold out… though NBC did blow it’s self-promotional load in the two-hour pre-game show, which included segments about the new NBC Sports Network so gratuitous that I fully expected Bob Costas to appear live on the pitcher’s mound with the Olympic rings painted on his shpacha.

Thankfully, he didn’t. But Mike Milbury did call the Rangers the “blue shits” when he was standing on the mound.

Video via Awful Announcing

Excellent.

Back to the game, which, in case you hadn’t notice, was pretty uneventful until the midway point of the second period.

The guys behind me were ragging on Brayden Schenn for not being half the man that Sean Couturier is. I thought about correcting them by pointing out that Schenn has been hurt for most of the season, but I let it go. I let it go until Schenn tallied his first NHL goal, much to the chagrin of Mike Richards, who I imagine was somewhere feverishly stabbing pins into his #10 Voodoo doll that was laughing at his attack like [take your pick of Hollywood villains who just. won’t. die.] Poor Mike.

In fact, I bet that Voodoo doll looks exactly like this:

Screen Shot 2012-01-03 at 11.15.40 PM

Bonus point to Schenn for his triple sal-cal into the boards, though:

Moments later, Claude Giroux did that sex-on-ice thing he does so well:

There was brief stoppage to clean up the roughly 22,000 pairs of panties that were thrown on the ice, mine included.

And just moments after that, it started snowing. Yes, it snowed. Photo evidence:

Screen Shot 2012-01-03 at 11.19.33 PM

Heaven’s bargaining table (which is ironically the same one Cliff Lee left millions of dollars on) must have heard a conversation like this:

God: Can’t do snow today. Al Gore said “no.”

Gary Bettman: That’s fine, we appreciate your ti…

Ed Snider: Fuck this. I’m paying a Russian $51 million to sit on the bench and drink tea in front of the largest hockey crowd ever in Philadelphia. My pockets are deeper than you know. How much is it going to cost, Three-In-One?

God: … … What did you do with the Game 6 puck?

 

Annnd that’s how we got snow at the Winter Classic.

Of course, Snider forget to ask the Almighty One to prevent the Flyers from having defensive lapses and giving up soft goals. 

Mike Rupp scored, then performed Jagr’s salute, a move that angered just about every Flyer except for Jagr.

At the second intermission, while waiting in the longest mens room line in the history of Citizens Bank Park, Liam, the handicapped kid from 24/7, rolled* behind me. The following took place:

Random fan: Is that the kid from HBO?!

Liam’s Mom: Um, yeah.

Random fan: Awesome! Can I get a picture with him?!

 

And cue a hundred cell phones snapping pics of Liam, who – thankfully – seemed to be enjoying the attention.

Screen Shot 2012-01-03 at 11.24.54 PM

*I have no idea if that is the appropriate terminology, I just can’t think of anything else. Not trying to offend, he really did roll behind me.

Before the game, John Tortorella texted Liam, “Let’s kick some Philly ass,” according to reader Mike, who saw that on the CBC replay today. Classy, John.

Onto the third…

Rupp saucered one by Bob, who was paying homage to the Flyers’ last Winter Classic goaltender, Michael Leighton. Game tied, 2-2. Pocket Utley threw some popcorn on Rangers fans who were seated below.

Screen Shot 2012-01-03 at 11.26.05 PM

Later on, Brad Richards, who was a potential Flyers target last summer, scored to put the Rangers up, 3-2. Pocket Utley threw more popcorn.

Then, it seemed, for about 10 minutes the Flyers couldn’t penetrated (heh) the Rangers’ zone. Long outlet passes were being blatantly intercepted. The bouncing puck made carry-in attempts useless. And the Rangers had bouts of pinning the Flyers deep in their zone.

Things weren’t going well, and I couldn't feel my hands.

As you know, the Flyers would get chances in the final minutes. Danny Briere pulled a puck out from inside the crease and was facing a wide-open net… only the play had been whistled dead by the official, who had lost sight of the puck. 

He would make it up.

First, concurrent minors were called on Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Callahan, even though Timonen – from my vantage point – appeared to lasso the Rangers’ captain like an overzealous parent with their kid on a leash. 

Then Briere was awarded a penalty shot after Ryan McDonagh may or may not have covered the puck in the crease with his glove. 

Now, I’m not going to go as far as Tortorella in saying that the officials wanted to tie the game, but the 30 seconds of hesitancy and uncertainty before the shot tells me that they absorbed the moment, and decided to give fans a thrilling finish. Which they did.

Briere was stoned. Pocket Utley cried (he was out of popcorn). And the Rangers hung on for the victory, where their celebration was delayed ever-so-slightly because Scott Hartnell decided to be a jackass after the final horn.

A few other random thoughts:

When are James van Riemsdyk’s balls going to drop? 

I thought they did last year in the playoffs against Boston, but I was either mistaken or they ascended back into his stomach.

Yes, he’s hurt, and he’s probably going to need surgery on his hip at the end of the year, but there’s a difference between being hampered and being completely non-existent.

Patti LaBelle is awful

The Roots…

Yeah, I know they’re popular. They’re fine, but I just don’t get it. Apparently, neither did most of the hockey fans at Citizens Bank Park. One of the local hipster sports blogs celebrated their appearance in a post that I’m sure appealed to the exactly six Roots-hockey crossover fans.

Charging $25 for parking was criminal.

34 Comments

  1. Ms. CB?? How much do you want to be Bill Simmons? Give it a rest, sports-tool

  2. Danny Briere has a 6.5 million cap hit…he has 25 points. Why would Briere take the penalty shot when Giroux was on the ice at the end of the game? Lets not put the leading point scorer in the NHL to take the shot, lets have the under performing overpaid player who is having a shitty season take the shot…makes sense to me…Ehh lets just do what every typical Flyers fan does…blame Bryz…(which by the way would have won that game if he started like he should have, major fail on Lavs part)

  3. welllll gooooood forrrrrr youuuuuuuu

  4. With exception to the score, this was a fantastic experience all around. The best times at CBP are when it’s cold out. The snow was so surreal. I thought it had to be fake because of how perfect it was. When I found out it was real, I felt like a little kid. I will never forget the time I spent there with friend who came with me.
    For the record, I liked The Roots a lot and appreciated that they were there. They are great artists. I can go into the reasons for why most Flyers fans didn’t appreciate them, but they are fairly obvious whether thy want to admit them or not.

  5. I thought the Roots were a good choice. Much better than some washed up singer/band that no one has cared about it 20 years like most major sporting events usually get.

  6. I agree with Chirp. I wanted Giroux taking that penalty shot, but figured he wasn’t on the ice. I thought he was now. If Chirp and I were both right- that he was out there- why the FUCK was he not taking that penalty shot? I mean, I know Briere has a higher career shootout %, but is there really ANYONE who thinks Giroux wouldn’t have scored in that situation?
    If he was on the ice and Laviolette went with Briere…. that’s his mistake for this game, not starting Bob.

  7. Dude, we get it…you have a girlfriend. Congrat-u-fucking-lations. Do you need to mention her in every post? AF is right, give the Simmons impression a rest and write about sports, no one here gives a shit about your girlfriend.

  8. You didn’t have credentials?? I would think that someone that sits around his house all day trolling for real reporters stories that he can repost, would be loaded down with credentials. Tool..

  9. Also, why do I get the feeling that “ms. cb” is actually a medium skinned Latino boy

  10. 25$ for parking was beyond criminal…..and when lauren hart does not sing the national anthem/is not the first singer at the game…we loose…every time

  11. Ashley G bringing the heat..nice…

  12. Re: Ashley G — As opposed to a heavy skinned Latino boy? Usage: “No not that Latin boy the other one….no the one with the heavy skin!”
    AF/Deezy — Sounds like somebody’s a little jealous.

  13. why do I get the feeling Ashley G is a man not named Ashley…

  14. Yo CB, i like your stuff. I check your site out every day. don’t sweat these losers taking time out of their shitty lives to talk shit about you, your girl, and your blog. People like them let us know were killing it. Fucking Losers. keep on losing. roaches. Cb do your thing brother. keep it coming.

  15. Ms. CB is an odd title, but I believe she exists and is asked to wear a Giroux wig during lovemaking.

  16. I didn’t vote CB as “Best Sports Blog in Philly” exactly for posts like this.

  17. Actually thought JVR had some decent shifts for once this year… The flyers need a vet playmaker for briere’s line, the habs are sellers, lookin to unload Camaleirri, Gomez etc… they Might roll Gill into a deal for you as well.

  18. JohnnyRockets27

    January 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Giroux wasnt on the ice. watch the replay they show him sitting in the middle of the bench right after the whistle. not nearly enough time for him to leave the ice after the play. he wasnt out there. so it was either briere or voracek as the best candidates for the shot. any sane person would pick briere. hes not the reason we lost. lundqvist, claude giroux, and inconsistent forechecking are the reasons we lost. if giroux is covering richards like hes supposed to instead of sitting behind the net watching the play and covering no one that goal never happens. hes a center. thats basic defense the a 6 yr old kid understands C’mon man!

  19. The Roots played for two reasons…one philly but the other was that it was an NBC broadcast and they are on an NBC show…i still dont know why Patti Laballe was there…she is quoted on NHL.Com that she is not a hockey fan and she left the game because it was too cold…i still have bad memmories of Game 4 of the 08 WS of her awful voice…

  20. You haters are the biggest fucking losers. You read blogs that you are not even interested in and then you criticize the writer (and the readers who actually enjoy this blog). Are you jealous he has a blog and you don’t? Couldn’t get your own so you blast everyone else’s. So Kyle mentions his girlfriend, so what? Are you jealous that he actually has one? Are you surprised he doesn’t live in his mother’s basement playing video games all day (as I suspect most of you haters do)? Shocked that he gets laid by a woman who doesn’t require a bicycle pump to inflate? My god, people. Read and move on.

  21. I’ve actually heard from multiple people who went that the experience was very overrated. They enjoyed the fanfare in the beginning but the gameplay itself suffered because of it being outdoors. Specifically, folks didnt like that you could not hear the ref whistles or the sounds of the game. Those sounds could have been piped thru the entire stadium. In addition, becuase it was outdoors, the speed of the game suffers. the general consensus of people I talked to was taht it is not a great way to showcase the sport and if they had the opportunity to go again, they wouldnt

  22. TR — You could hear the sounds of the game. The rink was mic’ed. I guess it depends on where you were sitting on if you could hear or not. I was all the way up in 426 and could hear it. I guess speakers were at the top of the stadium.
    Only people I heard who had a less then great experience were in the first 15-20 rows of the 100 level….and they were warned of the sight lines.

  23. Haha can you stick to relevant sports coverage, and not tell us an abortion of a story about how you got tickets to the WC. Also, I never want to read another article with the name Ms. CB

  24. Af & Deezy & All,
    “Ms. CB”?
    Don’t you mean “(A Whole Lot of) Rosie Palms and Her 5 Sisters”? Hahahahahahahah
    Somebody keep Pocket Utley away from Laddie Boyo before he becomes “Slappy Clown, Jr.” hahahahahahah

  25. For those bashing Kyle and making assertions about his high opinion of himself, big ego, etc, etc. Let me assure you that these accusations are absolutely……TRUE.
    This is coming from someone who knows the guy pretty well. As soon as he started this blog and got a little attention, he pretty much cut ties with all of his old friends. To each their own in the end, just throwing this out there for people who may now know him.

  26. Ah come on Jewels, maybe Laddie cut ties with you because it was you who became the tool.
    Or should I say “toule”; E.I., “Joules the Toule”
    Only us fake bloggy friends have the right to criticise Slappy Boyo now. hahahahahah

  27. I.E. not E.I. (must have been thinking E.G. but changed me mind in midtype and failed to backspace/delete)
    I’m a McGinty, not a farming McDonald.

  28. Funny, I don’t know anyone named “Joules.”

  29. @JohnnyRockets27 are you sure Giroux was not out there. I thought it was Giroux who passed the puck across to Mezaros who one timed it and then the scramble began. If Giroux was not out there then the next question is why not? Less than a minute left in the game down 1 and your best player (and best player in the NHL) is sitting on the bench?!
    And yes Giroux did have a bad game even with the goal he scored. He had several oppurtunities to score and missed or tried to pass rather than shoot. Clearly did not cover Richards on the third goal as well.
    JVR is a waste of space. If hes injured shut him down. hes hurting us more than helping…19 points!? The guy has no speed and no drive. Remember when he used fly down the wing and go hard to the net…yea not anymore…

  30. Chirp, JohnnyRockets doesn’t know what he is talking about. Laviolette was just on with Mikey Miss and said Giroux was out there and he went with Briere because he’s historically the best in that situation.
    Which is FUCKING RETARDED. Giroux DEFINITELY would have scored. Does anyone really doubt that? And Briere is struggling at this point… terrible call to have him take that shot.

  31. Even though the game is way over hyped, it was still an incredible experience, and being a teenager with limited money, i’d pay a good amount of money to see the game live again. Hopefully ill get better seats than the roof top bleachers (even though they were 100% free and paid for by the NHL). The game was unfortunately really slow paced, which was the main problem that bothered me the most. I also disliked the quality of the ice, because it was outdoors, the puck jumped like crazy. Briere probably didnt deke because of the crappy ice conditions. I just wished he tried to shoot top right or top right, because Henrik left both wide open. It makes sense that Lav’s gave Briere the shootout, but it made even more sense to give G the go. Once again, excellent story.

  32. RANGERS BBABBBBYYYY flyers suck
    3-0

  33. I don’t get why these people have to voice their miserable shitty opinions. I love this blog.If you don’t like it then don’t read it. Haters gonna hate Kyle. Also, I sat row 10 in left field. Bad view of the game but atleast they had a video screen for the section to look at.

  34. I hate my life but at least this makes it beaarlbe.

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