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Stadium Series: Two Points

Flyers staying focused, realize two very important points are on the line in outdoor game

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

Inside or outside, you get two points for a win. No third one for nostalgia purposes, however much the Flyers could especially use it these days. However far back the wind in their faces on Saturday night in Pittsburgh takes their memories, they are looking up at four teams to move into eighth place and in far greater need of celebrating a victory than the great game of hockey or the carefree days of their youth.

"[Outdoor games] are different, no question about it," said Sean Couturier, one of six Flyers who played in the January 2, 2012 Winter Classic against the Rangers at Citizens Bank Park. "It's almost like it's a show for the fans; you have to remind yourself that it counts and bear down.

"It's a little different this time because there are no HBO cameras following us around for two weeks before the game. So far, it is less of a distraction. But once we get out there, it probably will feel different again."

From the stands, you need binoculars for the game not to look different, too: Even on television, the game is too far away to feel the same intensity as in an arena, but be assured that the Flyers and first-place Rangers, separated by only two points in the standings at the time, played a real game in 2012, just as did the Flyers and Bruins in a 2-1 Boston overtime win at Fenway Park in 2010. 

Video: Giroux talks about upcoming stadium game

The vast expanses around the rink notwithstanding, inside the boards there still is exactly the same amount of room for players to run into each other. Not only is score kept, but grudges - the Rangers' Mike Rupp, who scored two goals to beat the Flyers, 3-2, in the 2012 game, after each of them mocked Philadelphia's Jaromir Jagr's trademark salute.

It is rumored Sidney Crosby will be playing for the Penguins Saturday night. The Flyers know they are not meeting Arizona. That will help, and three losses in the last four games really can't hurt. The need for wins becomes more acute by the game. No chance now the Flyers are going to Pittsburgh for dreamy reflections on a hockey Walden Pond.

Video: Hakstol talks upcoming stadium game

Even if they were headed into the game with seven wins in their last 10 games rather than just three, it probably wouldn't be any different, not against a divisional rival, and not under this spotlight.The family skates on the preceding day notwithstanding, five years ago the Rangers quickly understood they were not on the rink at Rockefeller Center, after the Flyers jumped up 2-0. After New York rallied back, and Danny Briere was stopped on a penalty shot by Henrik Lundqvist in the final minute, fireworks went off, all part of the show, but the only thing the Flyers felt like celebrating was that the HBO crew filming a reality show was packing up and leaving. 

Before the cameras left, they caught Flyer coach Peter Laviolette in his office, looking utterly morose. "It sucked," Laviolette recalled in The Flyers at 50. "It's a bigger than a regular game. We all wanted to win it."

This time, they need to win it. There was no moral victory awarded for playing hard and pretty well to the end Wednesday night against the first-place overall Capitals, not at this time of year, not in this standings predicament, and certainly not heading to Pittsburgh. "It's another great team we are facing on the road," said Mark Streit after Wednesday night's 4-1 loss. "We can't get carried away with the event.

"We keep telling ourselves we are playing well and yeah we did a lot of good things, but we have to find away to get a little lucky."

Any further thoughts by any Flyers how fortunate they are to participate in a league signature event are banished to the penalty box.  

They shouldn't have any problem concentrating.

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