With the 2018 NHL Winter Classic just days away, we remember the first and only version that featured the New York Rangers, the 2012 edition that took place in Philly.

In the wonderful sport of ice hockey, a team’s given lineup, year by year, has a tendency to change quite a bit. Many old faces leave and many new faces arrive season by season.

This is a part of the development of the average dynamic NHL roster.

Six years have passed since the last time the New York Rangers were in the NHL Winter Classic. For the sake of nostalgia, we’ll look to review just how drastically things have changed from 2012 to the near and optimistic year of 2018.

On that day, Jan. 2, 2012, the New York Rangers would defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in dramatic fashion, 3-2 in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Allow me to recall some names and moments from six years ago. The time span I’m speaking of may not seem substantial, but when I mention some names that had been a part of this classic, it will become evident how long ago this truly was.

To begin the influx of nostalgia, Michael Rupp, a rugged enforcer that helped comprise the intimidating John Tortorella-Ranger teams of the era, scored two goals to lead the Rangers to victory.

Along with Rupp, Ruslan Fedotenko, John Mitchell, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan were among the 2012 Rangers that comprised the classic team that won the Atlantic Division. Later that season, they would go on to play in the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils.

The game was filled with hitting, physically, and drama. From the on-ice battles between Rupp and Flyers star Scotty Hartnell to some soft goals allowed by the young future superstar Sergei Bobrovsky to the final and nail-biting penalty shot taken by Flyers star and Ranger-killer Danny Briere, the game showcased many moments that turned it into an instant classic.

It was a time in which the Blueshirts were a tough hockey team, gleaming with heart, grit and determination. It was a time in which we could watch Michael Del Zotto turn the puck over 10 times a night. It was a time where shots were blocked, creases were cleared and fights were had. The 2011-12 season was a sort of revitalization of old-time hockey, embodied proudly by our New York Rangers.

Now, the New York Rangers are a robotic, emotionless group of players who don’t seem to have the unbridled grit and spirit that the 2012 team was equipped with (with the exception of a small group of players). From this notion, it can be ascertained that a team takes the form of its current head coach.

New York Rangers Winter Classic
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The 2018 Winter Classic, like in 2012, is a very important game for the Rangers. In the log-jammed metro division, every game, even in early January, counts. The Buffalo Sabres, who the Rangers look to play, have given them fits recently. The Rangers cannot look at the Sabres record and become complacent; they have to take this game seriously.

But, all stressful feelings and vital components aside, the Winter Classic is an honor for any NHL team to participate in. The fans get to experience something really incredible. Perhaps, in honor of that beloved 2012 team, certain Rangers fans will proudly wear their Winter Classic Ryan Callahan Jersey for the sake of remembrance. Remembrance of the spirited and lovable Rangers team that took the ice in Citizens Bank Arena in 2012.

Dear Rangers and Sabres, make this Winter Classic yet another classic for the fans to remember.