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Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 7:53 PM

By Mike Rupp -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Rupp's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

Looking to change momentum, Rupp did much more

After finishing off his best performance of the season with two goals in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Rangers forward Mike Rupp met a large gathering of media in front of his dressing room. Rupp wore the Rangers' Broadway Hat as the team-voted player of the game in New York's 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Rupp blogged about his experience at Citizens Bank Park once all the cameras were turned off. Here are his thoughts:

You're always thinking you can be the player to change the momentum of a game. When it actually is you finishing off the goal that does change the momentum, it is an amazing experience.

Scoring that first goal today was big because we needed one in a bad way. The Flyers had just gotten two in a row and we knew if they got a third it would have been really difficult to come back. We all went out there after Claude Giroux scored -- myself, Brandon Prust, John Mitchell, Marc Staal and Stu Bickel -- thinking 'Let's do something here. Let's pull this momentum from them.'

We did and it was enough to cut the lead.

People were asking me about the salute I gave after scoring. You may not believe this, but it was just a moment of excitement. I was really just excited to contribute offensively and hopefully at that time get us back in the game. I'm just glad we were able to get back in the game.

Getting the second goal, the game-tying goal, was also huge. Everybody has to contribute and I only had one goal coming into today. I've always thought one of the strongest points of our team is the production comes from up and down the lineup, and I didn't want to be one who never did it. So, it feels good.

I also know as a player that I can do a lot of different things, but this year so far I haven't felt I have been tapping into all those areas. It was important to me to contribute more.

Overall, the experience was just awesome. It really is much better to be on the winning side of the Winter Classic than on the losing side. I felt it the other way last year and it wasn't fun, but we as a team need to remember that we haven't won anything yet. Yes, we won this game and it's a big one, but can't go around puffing out our chests and thinking we won something equivalent to a Game 7.

This wasn't a Game 7, but it did feel good in that moment to win this game.

The experience was awesome. I've always said Philadelphia is one of my favorite cities to play in, and this event was so well done here. We all really enjoyed our time, but we've got three more games against the Flyers this season and we have a big game Thursday against Florida.

The Winter Classic chapter has to close now. It was a great one.

Posted On Monday, 01.02.2012 / 1:54 PM

By Mike Rupp -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Rupp's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

As puck drop nears, Rupp savors second time around

Rangers forward Mike Rupp is about to play in his second straight Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Rupp suited up for the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field last year, and is in the lineup Monday for the New York Rangers.

Rupp agreed to offer up his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event. This is his pregame blog entry.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Winter Classic is big, huge in fact; but as a player getting ready for the game you have to treat the entire day as normal as possible. You know it's different and way bigger than just another game, but you have to keep on your same eating and resting schedule or else you'll throw yourself totally off.

That's what I've been trying to do today. Of course it's different with my family being with me on the road, but they understand I have a job to do.

Again, you know it's big, but when you're in the locker room, or clubhouse here, it feels the same. The guys are all doing their normal game-day routines. It isn't until you come out onto the field that you feel it and you see it. That's when you really notice the difference.

Having played in last year's Winter Classic with the Penguins I now have a greater appreciation for the entire event. A year ago I remember being a ball of nerves before the game, worried so much about focusing on just what was around me and the game, that I probably didn't absorb the atmosphere as much as I would have wanted.

Today I'm not like that. I'm trying to treat it normally, but the excitement is high for puck drop because this is just awesome. Being out here in front of the dugout now, watching the kids playing on the auxiliary rink that's made to look like a pond, that's what it is all about.

Yes this is a big rivalry game and an important two points on the line, but it's about celebrating the game of hockey and celebrating it outdoors. Driving in here on the team bus you could see the parking lot that seems to go on forever here just filled with people tailgating and playing street hockey. That is just awesome.

There aren't too many guys that get to a chance to play in one of these, and after today I'll be fortunate enough to play in two.
Posted On Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 6:28 PM

By Mike Rupp -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Rupp's 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic blog

Rupp: I'm so lucky to do this again

Rangers forward Mike Rupp is less than 24 hours away from playing in his second straight Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Rupp suited up for the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field last year, and is scheduled to skate for the New York Rangers against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

Rupp agreed to offer his opinions in blog form leading up to the main event Monday.

PHILADELPHIA -- It is fantastic to be back here at another Winter Classic. To think that most guys don't even get to experience one of these, and I'm lucky enough to experience two of them in back-to-back years; it is really just amazing.


Winter Classic start time moved to 3pm

The NHL, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, announced Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will start at 3 p.m. ET. READ MORE ›
The thing that I remember the most and the best thing about last year's game in Pittsburgh was walking out onto the field -- or ice, I guess -- for warm-ups and experiencing that. It was just so cool to look up and see close to 70,000 people there to watch a hockey game.

Then there were the moments after hard-fought periods when you hear the fans as you're coming out for the second or third -- they are the ones that I really remember most and cherish.

Walking out onto the field here today, yeah, it's cool. You look around and see the stadium, but tomorrow is the pinnacle of it.

What was interesting was last year they had us walking out for the game side-by-side with the Capitals. We were basically shoulder-to-shoulder and that was just so awkward. It was especially awkward in the tunnel as we were waiting for our cue to start walking onto the field.

They didn't tell us that we were going to be doing that last year, and all of a sudden there the Capitals walked up alongside of us. I remember thinking how strange it was. All of our routines that we do to get each other pumped up, they all were basically forgotten about and it just went quiet for a few moments. Everyone was just kind of standing there. It was very awkward.

There was that uncomfortable feeling in the air, so much tension; so we just started chirping each other, saying things like, 'Let's get all over these idiots,' just to break the ice.

But you know what? It was neat the way they did it. I doubt they'll do it that way this year since we can go out in our separate dugouts.

As I think about the game now, with less than 24 hours left before puck drop, I remember what happened last year and how it felt to lose.

It felt like we just got eliminated from the playoffs. You're sitting there thinking how it's only two points, and you keep telling yourself that leading up to the game, but there is also that Catch-22 because it's such a big game and you know so many people are watching it.

Then again, two points in this League are so huge, so we couldn't let it carry on and carry us into a funk.

The two points up for grabs tomorrow could be the difference in a top-four seed, an Atlantic Division title, or maybe even being in or out of the playoffs altogether. It's important to get two points tomorrow.
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