Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New York City's NHL Stadium Series

From the desks of:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bronx, New York

Scene From Sunday Afternoon

New York Rangers   7
New Jersey Devils    3

The standings remain a problematic situation for all three local teams.  Heading into tomorrow night's showdown in the frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium, a mere four points separate the Rangers from the Devils, and nine points separate the 2nd place Rangers from the last place New York Islanders.  The Devils play tonight.

After all these years, the Devils still have us asking ourselves - how do they do it?  But the answer is a different this time.  For starters, they have one identity during regulation time, but another beyond that.  New Jersey has 11 OT losses, good for 2nd worst in the league.  If they start converting some of those OT situations, the Blueshirts had better look out.

During Sunday's first period, it looked like New Jersey's geezers had Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers off their game.  Patrick Elias, the all-time Devils scoring leader, who will turn 38-years old in April, opened the afternoon's scoring with a goal 5:36 into the match.  After Dominic Moore tied the game, Elias scored again on a feed from Jaromir Jagr.  Travis Zajac then made it a 3-1 game on another feed from Jaromir Jagr.

Patrick Elias now has 384 goals in his long Devils career.  However, the Devils leading scorer this season is, of all people, Jaromir Jagr, who will turn 42-years old next month.  In the game, Jagr passed his one time former team mate Mario Lemieux, and now owns the 10th spot on the NHL's all-time assists leaders board, with 1,035 for his career.  He has 44 points in 53 games this season, while his 16 goals give him 697 for his career.  Only six players in NHL history have scored 700 or more goals in a career.  Jagr most recently passed Mark Messier on the list.  Since returning in 2011-12, after three years playing in Russia, Jagr has scored 51 goals in 171 games played.

Another Devil chasing the number 700 is Martin Brodeur.  He is 18 victories away.  He was respectfully given Sunday's start at Yankee Stadium.  But his first start ever in an outdoor game, turned into one of his worst.  After the Devils jumped out to a 3-1 lead Sunday, Brodeur went on to allow five unanswered goals, for a total of six on the day.  After the game, Brodeur complained of very poor ice conditions, and the Rangers coach agreed.  Nonetheless, instead of gaining career victory number 683 Sunday, Brodeur earned his 392nd career loss.  Marty will turn 42 years of age in May.  At this stage of his Devils career, there is no getting around the fact Cory Schneider is the better net minder, or, has been playing that way. Schneider started in each of the last five games prior to Sunday.  Perhaps Brodeur will agree to come back next season in a back-up role.

For the Rangers, Michael Del Zotto drew the ire of two coaches, and was dispatched out of town.  Rick Nash is playing with the consistency originally expected of him, but collectively, Henrik Lundqvist and the team were giving up more goals than scored...., until Sunday that is.  They exploded for seven goals in total.

Henrik Lundqvist is arguably having his worst season as a Ranger.  In my view, his newly minted contract, his play this season, and the play of Cam Talbot have created an interesting dynamic.  It will be interesting to watch this unfold.  It's a good thing you haven't heard from me in a month.  You don't want to know what I was really thinking.


New York Rangers
New York Islanders

On Sunday, Rick Nash scored for the 5th straight game.  He now has 27 points in 37 games played, with 18 goals and 9 assists.  Wednesday night, he'll square off against the Islanders John Tavares.  The Isles star has 64 points this season, with 23 goals and 41 assists. Kyle Okposo joins him with 23 goals and 57 points, and Thomas Vanek now has 38 points in 39 games played.  Brad Richards leads the Rangers with 38 points. There's a punchline in there somewhere.

What's with the NHL scheduling three NYR/NYI games in January?  Freakin' brilliant!  I'll be at the game.



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