Game 39: The Winter Classic

January 1, 2018, by

The Rangers and Sabres face off today in the annual Winter Classic, this year from Citi Field. The Rangers are going to look to take advantage of a bad team on a national/outdoor stage. The Sabres are going to look to well, not be the Sabres for one day.

It may just be another game in the standings, but it’s a pretty cool scene for guys who haven’t been there before. Vinny Lettieri’s second NHL game will be the Winter Classic. This is the first time Boo Nieves, Brady Skjei, and others will play on this stage. But here’s hoping the rest of the team shows up too.

Sabres Systems

Phil Housley is the new guy in Buffalo, and it’s not going that well. I don’t have any insight into his systems just yet.

Sabres Lines

Zemgus Girgensons-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo
Benoit Pouliot-Evan Rodrigues-Jason Pominville
Johan Larsson-Jacob Josefson-Jordan Nolan

Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe-Zach Bogosian
Nathan Beaulieu-Justin Falk

PP1: Reinhart-Eichel-Okposo-ROR-Ristolainen
PP2: Kane-Rodrigues-Pominville-Beaulieu-Scandella

Robin Lehner gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Rick NashMika ZibanejadMats Zuccarello
Pavel BuchnevichDavid DesharnaisJimmy Vesey
Michael GrabnerKevin HayesJT Miller
Paul CareyBoo NievesVinny Lettieri

Ryan McDonaghNick Holden
Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalBrendan Smith

PP1: Nash-Zuccarello-Zibanejad-Buchnevich-Shattenkirk
PP2: Desharnais-Miller-Vesey-Hayes-McDonagh

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Scratches/Injuries: Steven Kampfer (healthy), Jesper Fast (quad), Chris Kreider (blood clot)

Crazy Prediction: Mike Milbury doesn’t say anything stupid during the broacast.

Game time is 1pm. Be sure to follow on Twitter for gifs, and on our Snapchat for in-game.

Categories : Game Thread


  1. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Buffalo has been playing much better as of late. Don’t underestimate them!

  2. Richter1994 says:

    Dave, the Rangers are playing so Milbury will definitely say something stupid about them. He hates them.

    • Walt says:

      Just consider the source!!!

      • Richter1994 says:

        Oh, I didn’t say that I will “listen” to him, but he can’t help himself. People that think he’s good for their broadcast are idiots.

        • upstatetom says:

          but mike emrick is much worse than milbury. when he’s on all he wants is everyone, along with himself, to hear and think how cute his idiotic quips & quotes are. he and pierre macguire are the absolute worst, worst, worst for televised hockey

          • Richter1994 says:

            I think Emrick is more sincere than Milbury by just calling the game.

            Milbury always has an agenda, not to mention his hockey intelligence is lacking. What he did to the Isles’ franchise was negligent boarding on criminal.

            • upstatetom says:

              just talking about horrible announcers. at least milbury is interesting enough to listen to, not a complete bore !!!! i think he does what he does to be listened to. emrick’s an idiot pleased with listening to himself.

          • Chris F says:

            Doc is a national treasure. I will never, ever understand the people who constantly dump on him.

            Years from now, when he’s gone and you’re watching old highlights and hear his calls, the nostalgia is gonna kick you in the ass.

            • upstatetom says:

              blah, blah, blah. treasure that !

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              I have never understood this. I’m in the business and I can tell you Doc is absolutely revered. Arguably the best network play by play man in ANY sport.

              Milbury, I agree. Awful. But remember, Milbury is usually a studio guy, so right now he is miscast. I’d go with Keith Jones instead. Eddie O is sorely missed. Doc and Eddie are a phenomenal team IMO.

              I know Pierre is polarizing but I have to tell you, I don’t understand the hate for him either. I like him in his role and very much enjoy his insights on NHL Network Radio.

              Fans are bizarre when it comes to network announcers. Seems like they pretty much hate all of them regardless of the sport.

          • RichS says:

            1,000,000,000 % correct……I want to scream at them to SHUT UP and just call the game!!!!!!

          • Ryne Muller says:

            Sam Rosen brings Nothing to the table except if a player has a brother playing in the league. The worst.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Sam Rosen…..awful? My goodness! If he’s awful then please tell me who’s actually good. One of the top 5 hockey TV announcers in the business, and an icon among most Rangers fans.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Oh the dumbass comment from Milbury:

      “Hayes with the flip and the Rangers kinda get lucky.”

      Really? That was a great pass on the 2nd goal. If that were Crosby then he would have been called “brilliant” not “lucky.”

  3. Lace says:

    Is AV hiding Holden in plain sight on that too pairing? It’s not a bad use of what he has, just wish it wasn’t Holden.

  4. HOF 19 says:

    How about we start making 1st place in the division a goal…….WE CAN DO IT !!!!!……….LETS GO RANGERS !!!!!

    • they need more desireupstatetom says:

      i agree, they need more desire, they just don’t have it !!!!

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        The Rangers DONT have desire? You mean one of the best third period teams in the league? Seriously?

        Work ethic is the least of the issues with this team.

        • upstatetom says:

          maybe it needs to begin when the game starts. YOU NEED TO WAKE UP BEFORE THE THIRD PERIOD !!!!

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            That would be nice. But given the choice, I’ll take the strong finishes. And most of all, I’ll take the record since Halloween all day every day.

  5. Bobby B says:

    The Winter Classic is an AWESOME EVENT! Lets enjoy it. Lets Go Rangers. A great opportunity for both teams to showcase players for a potential trade. Gorton should set his sights on Evander Kane, especially with Krieder out for a long stretch, Heck maybe he can pry Jack Eichel away too???

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Happy New Year Bobby!

      You’re right, Kane and his tremendous playoff and championship pedigree is exactly what the Rangers need!

      Oh wait…I’m sorry…you meant Evander and not Patrick! Evander’s only playoff experience has come when he buys a ticket!

      Just having some fun with you my friend…by the way…Reaves has certainly made a BIG difference on the Pens this year and especially on Crosby’s game….just as you predicted! (Again…..sorry, couldn’t resist!).

      • Bobby B says:

        Triple E. Kudos and Happy & Healthy New Year to you old friend. I must admit your post come with sarcasm and wit , you do make me smile!. Evander Kane does not have the most polished reputation, and not much playoff experience ( not his fault, he has always been on bad teams). Krieder is out, Rangers need a power forward ( left wing) who can hit , skate, score and occasionally fight, Kane fits the bill, why not inquire??, The Jack Eichel comment, well, one can have wish list and dream ???.. One more note ( I can’t resist) awesome article on my boy Dylan Mcllrath ( Detroit free press, Dec 2) he continues to flourish in the AHL. He gets rave reviews from the coaching staff, opens the ice for his teammates, throws thunderous body checks, fights when called upon, his skating has improved dramatically. Just a matter of time that the Undertaker returns to the NHL , Skating for the Red Wings. I am predicting a call up in the next week or 2. The second coming is around the corner, what do the Red Wings have in Dylan Mcllrath?? ( A combination of Shea Webber & Bob Probert) , and to think we let him go for the Nick Holdens & Steve Kampers of the world.. 🙂

        • RichS says:

          Bobby B……
          I cant wait until he returns….10 or 20 years ago he would be a staple on someones blueline……..This team just flat out played better with him in the lineup……yeah, he is better than holden and kampher……..
          We seem to trade all the popular ones who bring a physical aspect to a team that rarely has one………..domi, hospodar, curt bennet, carkner, paul stewart, steve durbano, kotsopolous, wells , bert wilson, poesheck……..even fotiu did not finish his career here!!!!!!
          Evander Kane would be terrific here on broadway….just what we need……

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            You two are truly hilarious. Maybe we can make a movie…The Last of the Minions. Two loyal McIlrath fans aimlessly wandering through the countryside, trying to muster up some last bits of support for their nearly forgotten minor leaguer. 🙂

            Bobby, I looked for the article. Couldn’t find it. Sure you didn’t imagine it? Either way…good to see he is playing well as an AHL player, which as we know is a far, far cry from the NHL. As for Weber and Probert….um, I have to assume you are merely yanking my chain. Either way….pretty funny!

            And Rich, wrong again. Go back and look at the Rangers record when McIlrath was in the lineup. It was SUBSTANTIALLY worse than when he was in his more appropriate place in the press box.

            That being said, sometimes big defenseman can be late bloomers. Who’s to say he won’t be one of those guys? But bottom line, Rangers are completely absolved regardless. He was waived three times, and NOBODY thought he was an answer on the NHL level on all three occasions. But I’m sure if he does get recalled and he plays well two or more years after the fact, you’ll find a Captain Hyperbole way to pin it on AV. 🙂

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          I looked…couldn’t find the article. Sure you didn’t imagine it? 🙂

          It’s very nice that McIlrath is doing well in the AHL. But all 31 NHL GMs have concluded three times now that he’s not a legit NHL option. Now maybe he will be one of those late bloomers. You never know. But I doubt even you believe he will be the next Shea Weber. Bob Probert maybe…but Probert wouldn’t be able to play in today’s NHL. That in a nutshell is the problem with McIlrath. Ten years ago he’s playing for someone. Today? Unless he has substantially improved, I remain skeptical.

  6. Stevem says:

    Happy New Year to everyone here.. and wasn’t it Milbury who called us the Bluesh**s at the last Classic?

  7. Richter1994 says:

    Good luck to all the poor bastards that are attending the game. Enjoy and be safe.

  8. Bloomer says:

    Crazy prediction Mike Millbury gets wacked with a snowshoe and the Rangers top the Sabers 4-2.

  9. chrisqct says:

    I love the Outdoor games, and very happy to see the NYR represent the NHL today. Friends at work barely watch hockey, but they will tune in at some point today just to check it out.

    But I laughed when they asked if got tickets. I had as much interest in going to today’s game as I did in being in Times Square last night. NO WAY!

    Stay warm… and LET’S GO RANGERS!

  10. HOF 19 says:

    AHH The wacky Polar Bear Club.

  11. Spozo says:

    Crazy prediction: next year the NHL gets a halfway decent music act for their biggest event of the season.

  12. HOF 19 says:

    Carey !!!!!

  13. Spozo says:

    I didn’t even realize. Fast in and Leteirri out. Fast with a great play to find the wide open Carey!

    • Stevem says:

      Same here.. would like that have seen the kid play today but real glad Jesper’s back

  14. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    That sneaky little AV…slipping Fast back into the lineup! And of course, Quickie, the Players’ Player, gets the assist in the goal by Paul (I don’t really suck as much as Richter thinks I do) Carey. 🙂

    That being said, with Fast back in so soon, you do have to wonder if Lettieri will be sent back down. Having him as the 13F would seem to be a waste.

    • Spozo says:

      Could you imagine how this page would have blown up if that move was posted a few hours ago?

    • Richter1994 says:

      LOL, Carey plays his heart out, I see that and appreciate it. But it serves zero purpose long term, blocking Lettieri from playing time. Another move by your coach that I don’t get.

      And DD on the PP is about as laughable as it gets. The guy shouldn’t even be in the line up.

      You mean Lettieri should not be in for either one of them? lol.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Lettieri is a tough call. The problem is, coaches in a battle for points aren’t usually thinking long term. What’s best for Lettieri is not necessarily what’s best for the Rangers. The Rangers need every point right now. And the Rangers have been piling up the points since Halloween doing it AV’s way, have they not?

        Carey absolutely has earned his place on the 4th line. DD gets a lot of abuse out here but look at his numbers…he’s been pretty good.

        So it comes down to this…do the Rangers believe that Lettieri, an undrafted FA with minimal pro experience, can legitimately help the team THIS season in their quest to go deep in the playoffs? And how many points are you prepared to potentially sacrifice to get him fully ready?

        Again, I’d like to see him. No doubt. But I’m not sure it’s clear who should come out at the moment.

        I know….maybe Buch…he’s been useless recently and could probably use some time in the A. 🙂

        • Richter1994 says:

          “Lettieri is a tough call”

          Spoken like it was AV himself.

          And, no it’s not bro (tough call), it’s just made to be a tough call.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Again….I fear you are overrating what he actually is today and underestimating the other options. You can’t bench Carey the way he is playing. DD maybe, but as I said above, he’s been pretty productive in his role. So who else?

            There’s no question about his upside compared to Carey and DD, but upside is irrelevant at the moment. To say it’s a no brainer that an unproven largely unheralded rookie MUST play is frankly, pretty “out there”.

            And again…..are the Rangers winning games doing it AV’s way? Yes they are. There is no reason to be experimenting here at the moment. None. And I doubt most other coaches in a similar position in the standings would do anything different than AV at the moment.

            Now, I will say this. Lettieri is a right handed shot. He has a “shoot first” mentality, which this team desperately needs. So I agree, at some point, either Lettieri or someone like him needs to be in this lineup. But it does not have to happen right now. It just doesn’t. There is no urgency to get Lettieri into the lineup. There IS urgency to get desperately needed points.

            BTW, Devils just announced their young defenseman Severson will take a seat in favor of over the hill veteran Ben Lovejoy. What!? I thought AV was the only one who does these things? 🙂

            • Richter1994 says:

              “And again…..are the Rangers winning games doing it AV’s way?”

              The Rangers won on Monday but are you going to say that they outplayed the Sabres the 2nd half of that game?

              Please don’t get caught up on strictly results to credit AV. As long as Henrik plays like he is now, which some of the best hockey of his career for this long of a stretch, the Rangers can win no matter how the rest of the team plays.

              Love the wins and the points but let’s not buy into the fact that this is a dominating team. We have a dominating goalie.

              If the team were responsible for the decreasing goals against then I would feel better about things, but it’s the goalie. Though I will say that the team is a little better on the D side, only because they were so bad prior to this stretch of games.

              I want to see 60 or near 60 minute games by the team to feel better about their playoff chances.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                I do not believe the Rangers are a dominating team. They are a flawed team playing about as well as most thought they would play….probably better then what most expected if you take October out of the mix.

                It is highly improbable that Lettieri does anything at the moment that changes the narrative of what the team is at the moment. He’s not a game changer.

                But…would I like to see him play at some point because he’s a righty and has a shoot first mentality? Definitely. The question is when and for whom?

              • Richter1994 says:

                In: Lettieri, Graves, and eventually Chytil
                Out: DD, Carey, and trade Holden

                At least this is a step in the right direction.

  15. HOF 19 says:

    Nice play Hayes !!!!!

    • Peter says:

      JT Hayes and Grabner all did a nice job in that play. JT’s pass, Hayes’ spinning shot and Grabner camped right where he should be.

  16. Chris F says:

    There’s entirely too much camera movement on this broadcast. The constant shifting, panning, and angling makes it almost impossible to track the puck.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Agree. It’s awful. I’ve seen some NBCSN hockey coverage out of Philly that does that sometimes. Whoever came up with that…bad idea.

  17. Bloomer says:

    Unlike world Junior hockey no high sticking penalty on the following through. Haven’t said that no one likes seeing a player get a stick in the face.

  18. Spozo says:

    The refs are doing their best to make up for that missed high sticking call.

  19. roadrider says:

    Will Milbury ever learn Kevin Hayes’ first name?

  20. HOF 19 says:

    Lets try this……..Get a pp goal ???……That might be nice …….LETS GO RANGERS !!!!!

  21. HOF 19 says:

    Too many men……Dumb .

  22. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    “The NY Post…delivered to your door”. Classic. That’s why Doc is the best.

  23. HOF 19 says:

    We are being out played right now.

  24. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Way too many penalties these last two games. PK has been good but can’t keep tasking it to this extent and expect to succeed.

  25. Bloomer says:

    Rangers doing a much better job going to the net with authority. Just need to stay out of the box as Buffalo is getting their best scoring opportunities with the man advantage.

  26. Stevem says:

    First 10 minutes of the 3rd is key.. gotta take advantage of the long change for Buffalo.. would love to pot a couple before the switch

  27. HOF 19 says:

    Yup he said it……..NY Rangers not managing the puck well there !!!!!

  28. HOF 19 says:

    WAKE THE F#### UP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. HOF 19 says:

    Starting to get the feeling we can not make shots that are going to be hard for this goalie to stop !

  30. HOF 19 says:

    J T !!!!!!!!!!!!!!………YES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bloomer says:

      JT Miller camped out in front of the net sweeps home the rebound off the Beefalo goalkeeper. Ranger get the needed 2 points in the competitive metro division.

  31. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    I think we can all agree on this….AV is the greatest outdoor coach in the history of the game! 🙂

    • roadrider says:

      He must hate indoor hockey (I kid, I kid …)

    • Richter1994 says:

      So let him coach at Cantiague Park near me on Long Island. 🙂

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        He’d win the championship there, no doubt!

      • King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

        I remember that place … played the Oyster Bay Gulls there when I was a kid . There was Cantiague,Kings Park ( played for Suffolk PAL travel teams) , Freeport , Dix Hills (played on the open rink and then the closed in one , there 2 sheets there now I hear ? ) , Long Beach , Coney Island ( loved that hell hole , lol ) , one close by the city ? Parkwood ? , and we played in Flushing a few times on the speed skating rink , lol

      • King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

        Great Neck was the rink , is that Parkwood ?
        I’m sure 3E will know … He knows everything !

  32. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    And Hank is the greatest outdoor goalie ever!!!!!

  33. Chris F says:

    Miller Time!

  34. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Seriously though, we will take the two points for sure. And I’m glad to see that, since the break, the team has largely tightened up defensively. The PK has been really good, but we got to stop taking so many penalties. The 4th line, especially the previously dumped upon Carey, continue to be effective. Grabner is the team MVP not named Hank. Just amazing. And Hank? He’s just playing on another level right now. So much for being over the hill, right Hank Haters?

    But, I worry about a few things here. Shattenkirk is still not really producing, OT assist aside. Mika has largely been non-existent since his return from the concussion. I realize Buch isn’t getting a lot of minutes, but be honest Buch fans, he’s not doing ANYTHING at all to show he deserves more minutes.

    This team is going nowhere unless those three get it going. But for right now, for the past two months, they are the “find-a-way” Rangers again….and they’ve found a way to impressively rally from a terrible start to the season to…..wait for it…move out of the WC spot and into third place……ahead of the incredible Coach Torts and his underachieving CBJs, and just four points out of first with a game in hand.

    Big games coming up this week with Chicago, the Yotes and Vegas. I’ll be thrilled with 4 out of 6 points.


    • King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

      Yeah but Shitty left millions on the table so we’re all good there … Now Kreider probably being out a good long while ( hopefully less ) that’s another hole to fill

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Why are you so obsessed with what guys make? It’s like the more they make, the more you hate them. Do you not understand how the financial system in the NHL works?

        • King Sieveqvist ! King Sieveqvist ! says:

          I’m sure you do

          *** note to self don’t bring up the King or Shatinurpants on the Blog , everyone else is fair for the plucking ***
          Never said anything on what he made , we were all so happy when he signed and left millions on the table to come here ( probably cause everyone else was smart enough to stay away 😉 )

          • Chris F says:

            Who stayed away? The teams offering him 8 years at 7 million per year?

            The whole concept of him “leaving money on the table” means there were other, more lucrative offers out there.

            So, it’s not like the Rangers brass were only ones out there offering him anything. Their offer was the lowest of any interested teams.

  35. Richter1994 says:

    Once again, the goalie.

    Did someone tell Hayes that if he shoots the puck that he will be benched the next 5 games? Because he’s playing that way. No less than 3 dead on shots passed up. Someone take the medicinal pot away from him because it’s screwing with his brain. God it’s maddening.

    Nice to see Jesper back so soon, but of course the wrong guy was scratched.

    Skjei is playing like a beast.

    • Bloomer says:

      The untouchables have produced a total of 123 goals so far his season. Considering they have no big name superstar players on their roster I think that’s pretty respectable. Lundqvist has returned to form and their Blueline has improved. However. with Kreider on the shelve and no depth on defence, I still believe this team is highly vulnerable should they get hit with the injury bug.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        It is Bloomer, but there’s a caveat there. A lot of that came early on the PP. A lot of that came when KZB line was healthy. Now Kreider is gone and Mika…who knows when he will be back to being Mika.

        We saw this last year too. This team offensively scares no one, stats be damned. They can be easily shutdown. Somehow, someway, we need to find a true sniper. Maybe Mika if he can find his pre-concussed stride. Maybe Buch, although he seems like more of a playmaker type. Lettieri has a shoot first mentality. But is he really ready for full time NHL duty?

        That’s been the Rangers bugaboo ever since Torts chased Gabby out of town. For the Rangers to score in bunches, the passing has to be perfect, or they get an odd man rush, or something fluky happens. Those opportunities close up quite considerably come playoff time. So guys with true finishing ability are crucial. They are the guys you game plan against to stop. Who on the Rangers do you think keeps coaches up at night? I’d say pretty much nobody.

        • Bloomer says:

          Ed…Slats made a smart move when he shipped out Gabby. He was clearly in decline as he hasn’t had a banner season since he left the Ranger organization. In return for the Tin man the Rangers recieved Brassard who later became Zib, John Moore who now anchors the Devil blueline and grinder Dorset. In summary Slats fleeced CBJ.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            I agree….and I disagree.

            You are absolutely correct, Slats made one of his better deals when he dealt Gabby to Columbus, no question. The return under the circumstances was excellent.

            My point was separate. Torts despised Gabby for some oddball “Tortsian” reason. This was after having the second of his two 40+ goal seasons in NY. Incredibly, he had a “thing” about Gabby not willing to block shots apparently. So at the time, Columbus was the black hole of the league and Gabby was so disgruntled that he was more than willing to waive his NMC just to get away from the madman head coach he had.

            I could only imagine how good Gabby would have fit in AV’s system. He would been back to being Gabby, no doubt. And as we saw in the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2014, Gabby proved to be the difference maker for LA. They had a legit sniper. We did not.

            If the Gabby deal hadn’t happened, the Rangers would never have been forced to give up draft picks to acquire MSL. Gabby’s contract would have been up at the end of the season, the Rangers would have let him walk and would not have been in a cap crunch at that point, and who knows, maybe they would have had the money to re-sign Stralman, or Boyle, or the next year Hags. Or made some other big splash with the cap space.

            Obviously, no one knows if the Rangers would have even made the SC Finals in 2014 if Gabby had remained, but two points are indisputable—the way Torts ran him out of town was disgraceful and hurtful to the team at the time (and may well have contributed to his losing the room and getting fired), and no question, LA having Gabby instead of the Rangers having him might well have been the difference in winning the Cup or not that next season. Torts’ lasting gift to the franchise.

            The fact that Slats got a great return for him is a separate discussion.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      100%. Hayes drives me nuts. They all do. They are mostly a pass first group with little in the way of instincts to shoot. AV talked pretty candidly about that the other day….that the coaching staff would like them to shoot more but at the same time he doesn’t want to coach the “instincts” out of them. We need someone who can shoot. That someone needs to be Mika. Hopefully he will find his scoring touch again and soon.

      But I do need to say, in fairness, that it’s hard to be too upset with Hayes, because he’s been terrific defensively. He’s more than filled Stepan’s shoes in that regard, neutraliziling the other team’s best centers. Kudos to him on that.