- Craig Custance
It's easy to overlook. Especially when you consider how long the rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers has raged or the distinguished careers of players like Brad Richards and Jaromir Jagr. A goalie who fills up a reporter's notebook in one 15-minute session more than some players do in a career provides further distraction.
So yeah, it's easy to miss that the Rangers and Flyers, the rivals squaring off in Monday's Winter Classic, are still two young, developing teams.
The Rangers have been growing organically for a few years while Flyers GM Paul Holmgren pressed the reset button this summer, bringing in youth like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier while creating opportunities for a host of rookies whose head count on the roster threatens to reach double digits.
With the Rangers and Flyers battling among the Eastern Conference elite this season, it's clear both of these teams will have a say about who emerges from the conference to play for a Stanley Cup. But which franchise is better poised for long-term success? Let's break it down:
Forwards: The emergence of Claude Giroux gives the Flyers a superstar and Hart Trophy candidate that isn't found on the roster of the Rangers, even with Marian Gaborik scoring goals at a high rate. Really, there's not a player like Giroux on any roster outside of Philly. "I played 20 years in this league. I can kind of sense who is good and who is not," said Jaromir Jagr on Sunday afternoon following the Flyers' practice. "Just the way [Giroux] skates, the way he pass. The way he sees the plays, that's what makes him special. The most that makes him special is the passing."
8dScott Burnside and Craig Custance