Archive for Winter Classic

According to TSN, specifically their “Insider Trading” program, the NHL is planning to host 6 outdoor games next season. As of this writing (Tuesday night), nothing has been confirmed by the league, but it’s certainly an interesting concept. Below are the rumored dates, matchups and locations.

  • January 1st at Michigan Stadium between Toronto and Detroit
  • January 25th at Dodger Stadium between Anaheim and LA
  • January 26th at Yankee Stadium between the Islanders and the Rangers
  • January 29th at Yankee Stadium between the Devils and the Rangers
  • March 1st at Soldier Field between Pittsburgh and Chicago
  • March 2nd at BC Place between Ottawa and Vancouver

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Giving the Winter Classic cancellation rumor another look

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According to an article written by Katie Strang at ESPN (with Lebrun contributing), the league plans to cancel the Winter Classic on Thursday. Although there wasn’t any detailed information in the article as to why the Classic would be canceled this early, other sites including the CBC and the NY Times have cited different contractual terms as the reasoning behind a potential cancellation.

According to, if the Winter Classic is canceled by Nov. 2, the NHL will only forfeit $100,000 of the $3 million in rent owed to the University of Michigan. However, the NY Times had a somewhat contradictory report.

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Watch 24/7 Episode 4

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Here’s the video for last night’s 24/7 finale.

H/t to Adam Rotter of SNYRB for finding this.

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Someone Should Question the NHL

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I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist. However the last five minutes of the Winter Classic and in fact throughout a lot of the game, NHL refereeing managed to sink to a new low. Some of the calls (and non-calls), particularly at the end of the game were so bad they were almost funny.

This morning I read Rick Carpiniello’s always informative Rangers Report blog for his game review and got stuck reading the same bullet point a few times. Credit Rick for highlighting this grim fact:

Who officiated that third period, Ed Snider? No, it was Philadelphia native Ian Walsh, who grew up in the Little Flyers organization. How in Holy Hell does he get an assignment for a Rangers-Flyers game ever, never mind this one?

Seriously, what the hell?  Many people throughout the league, and its fans, already complain at the NHL’s apparent ulterior motives, the at-best questionable refereeing and at the apparent favouritism Gary Bettman seems to show certain players and organisations over the years. Did the league really think in a world of mass media scrutiny and extensive fan involvement that the fact they employed a Philadelphia native, a former Flyer no less (to an extent) to be involved in officiating would get overlooked?

I’m still not a conspiracy theorist but this league needs to be transparent. Every team needs to feel equally treated and at least have confidence in the league that when they step on the ice they have a fair chance at winning a hockey game. Assigning guys like Ian Walsh to this game doesn’t instil confidence.

This kind of stupidity (let’s leave it at that for now) in their decision making is terrible. The league needs to be challenged as to why they allowed a Philadelphia native, one with ties to the organisation, to referee the game. Some people will always question a league’s integrity whether it be their handling of discipline or otherwise. This kind of faux-pa really does them no favours. Its bad enough I had to listen to the Roots.

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A Classic Winter Classic. The Recap

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From the disrespectful attitude towards the Canadian national anthem, to the putrid Orange Flyers Winter Classic Jersey’s, to the terrible NBC coverage – there was a lot not to like today for Rangers fans. Luckily for Rangers fans there was a lot to like about the final score, the determination they showed in coming back to win and yeah, the moral victory in the jersey stakes.

The Rangers were the second best team over the first two periods. They couldn’t impose their game, got little-to-no sustained pressure on the Flyers and seemed to be a step behind the play. They didn’t give up however, had the world’s best goalie in net and once again, found a way to win a tight game. The Flyers couldn’t match the Rangers intensity in the third and their desire to win the one on one battles, so it’s not surprising the Rangers won an oh-so-tight 3-2 affair. What a game, what an ending, what a (Rangers) goaltender.

Let’s start the quick hits backwards, with the ending:

You want the definition of clutch play? 19.6 seconds left on the clock when Lundqvist out waits Danny Briere on the incorrectly called penalty shot to preserve the Rangers one goal lead. Lundqvist was spectacular throughout and that was a fitting climax for the league’s best goaltender on the league’s biggest stage.

The Rangers actually started the game well with Callahan having a great chance to begin the first. They were hard in to the corners and had some good early pressure but they couldn’t keep it up and as stated, struggled to do so until the third period.

You want more examples of the brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist? His early saves on Jagr and Giroux. The one (on Jagr) was patience, standing up to the Czech legend and taking the space away from Jagr. On the Giroux chance he was surprisingly aggressive and made a great poke check which likely caught Giroux off guard. There were other, multiple spectacular stops throughout the game by Lundqvist. Great goaltending. Again.

They weren’t at their best in this game but Anisimov and Gaborik did create some chances. However Stepan had a relatively poor game, his worst in some time. Defensively he was off while he was less visible offensively than his line mates. Anisimov was good on the puck while Gaborik showed off some nice awareness and his usual speed.

Throughout the first two periods the Rangers defensive coverage wasn’t great. One occasion early on, Voracek was wide open on the right hand side but luckily fanned on his shot – no one was near him.

The Rangers also caused several turnovers giving the Flyers some good offensive zone opportunities. There were simply too many neutral zone breakdowns by the Blueshirts (not Blueshits, Mike Milbury).

Before the Mike Rupp show began I had made a note on how Bobrovsky was pretty solid. Then the clock struck twelve and he turned into a pumpkin. Not just because of Rupp’s second goal either. He gave up several juicy rebounds and made a few routine saves look harder than they should have been.

It’s worth noting how carefully the Rangers were managing Marc Staal’s comeback as he had just  3:40 of ice time after one (compared to Girardi’s 10:46) and 9:35 after two. Very un-Staal like minutes but it was the right way to handle him.

  • Thought on Brian Boyle: he had a great hit by Boyle to open the second period –why doesn’t he do that more often? That aside, good in the face-off circle which was much needed.
  • Another defensive concern: despite nothing materializing from it I didn’t like one instance when the puck broke for the Flyers in the Rangers zone and the trailing Ranger (Mitchell) left his man in the middle and migrated toward the puck to help out his beaten team-mate. Had a Flyer got control of the puck he’d have had a team-mate standing in front of Lundqvist completely alone.

The first two periods the Rangers lost a ton of puck battles all over the ice. Credit to the way the team rebounded in the third. The Rangers won much more battles in the last period. A coincidence that they won the period? I think not.

More physicality: Brandon Dubinsky had a nice hit on Bourdon – he’s more effective when he plays a physical game. He was involved in the game winner though and generally played an intelligent game, especially how he handled the puck at times.

  • Schenn’s goal 7:34 left in the second? After Matt Carle threw it on net, there was a big bounce right in front of Lundqvist that created a juicy rebound which a streaking Schenn chipped into the net. It’s hard to criticise Lundqvist given the bounce but Schenn did the right thing by going toward the net. More concern should be how Schenn was left unattended going to the net.
  • My issue on the second Flyers goal? While Del Zotto was caught up the ice pinching (leaving an odd man rush) the winger needed to recognise the pinch by Del Zotto and cover him: it was another breakdown in the Rangers play.

Mike Rupp; by far his best game as a Ranger and not just because of the two goals – but obviously they were huge. Loved the Jagr salute by the way. Following a great pass from Prust, Rupp used Meszaros as a screen to beat Bobrovsky with a neat wrister for his first. That was a terrible defensive play from Meszaros by the way and Bobrovsky was helpless on the goal.

One point the Rangers had a 2-on-0 and Stepan should never have passed and instead taken the shot. One too many passes ruined a great chance which was created from a nice turnover by Gaborik. The botched play was symptomatic of Stepan’s day.

Kudos to Prust for two nice assist’s today by the way. Clearly he can play the game, it’s just been to rare this season from the gritty forward.

Despite having an average game, Brad Richards scored the eventual GWG off a rebound following great work from Callahan and Dubinsky. Richards roofed a rolling puck into the net. Nice finish.

After the Richards goal the Rangers began to finally establish their cycling game down low. For the first time in the game they were able to play their own game. Exhibit A: they had great pressure with about five minutes left of the third controlling the puck, getting lots of shots off and creating  traffic, eating up a ton of clock.

The closing minutes of this game were simply spectacular. The incredibly inconsistent referees attempted to hand the Flyers a tying goal but they couldn’t get it. How? First of all the power play was questionable. Then, as Callahan goes down the ice and gets pulled down, how the referees see a penalty on both the Flyer and Callahan is beyond. Finally, with little evidence to prove McDonagh closed his hand on the puck in a goal mouth scramble they award a penalty shot. Incredible decision making.

Side note: If you hear in the coming days or weeks that Henrik Lundqvist has a new love in his life it’s me. Today’s game hooked me in. I love you Henrik. God knows how I’d react if that was a Cup Final game seven. Henrik; Call me…..

So hey, the biggest stage so far and the Rangers find a way to win again. Tell me you don’t feel good right now, I dare you. This team is for real, far from perfect, but they don’t give in. Let’s enjoy this ride shall we? Oh and big up to the man with a cigar for walking into Philadelphia and guaranteeing a victory. I’m smoking my Cuban right now for you Glenny boy. 

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Winter Classic Preview: Rangers at Flyers

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Standings: Flyers (22-10-4), Rangers (23-9-4)

Leading Scorer: Claude Giroux (17-28-45)

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky (14 GP, 2.52 GAA, .910 SV%)

Rangers Lines (probable)

Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Brandon Dubinsky-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell
Ruslan Fedotenko-Mike Rupp-Brandon Prust

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Anton Stralman
Marc Staal-Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Scratches/Injuries: Wojtek Wolski (groin), Mike Sauer (concussion), Steve Eminger (shoulder), Erik Christensen (healthy), Jeff Woywitka (healthy)

Preview:  Another day, another game against the Flyers, of whom the Rangers have defeated twice this season.

But this isn’t just another day. This isn’t just another game against the Flyers. It’s the Winter Classic.

We’ve seen this matchup twice this season, so it’s tough to not know what the Flyers will bring: a balanced scoring attack, good defense despite injuries, decent goaltending (since it’s Bobrovsky and not Mr. OMG-The-Universe-Is-So-Big), and a tremendously physical onslaught. The Rangers have beaten the Flyers twice by playing solid defense, capitalizing on chances, and maintaining puck possession.

The biggest thing for the Rangers is getting that powerplay to function again, as it has been worse than terrible the past 10 or so games. The Flyers are a dangerous team, and the Rangers will need to put home some powerplay goals to beat them for a third time this season.

Crazy Thought: Brad Richards gets a powerplay goal.

Opponent’s Blog: Flyers Fan Central

Game time tonight is 3:00pm on NBC, AM1050 and XM214.

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No Staal Return – The Right Decision

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Marc Staal is not rushing back today (speculation sparked by ESPN’s John Buccigross) and is the right decision from everyone concerned. Given his strong comments relating to any impending Staal comeback, it’s hard to imagine John Tortorella would have sanctioned the pivotal defenseman’s return unless doctors had absolutely cleared him for the game.

Staal’s return shouldn’t have come because Ryan McDonagh is down with the flu. He should come back when he is ready to come back. Whenever Staal returns, there’s likely to be rust. Not many players can have his kind of lay off and return without missing a beat. The Winter Classic, already played in exceptional circumstances, is not a good choice to return even where there’s health permitting, absolutely not.

The Rangers should allow Staal to return later in the week, give him a few more days of hard skating. Another aspect to consider with the game today; don’t underestimate the likelihood of a dirty, physical game against the Flyers (as is the norm); another reason to tread carefully with the Rangers best blue-liner.

If you can insert a quality player in to the line up who is ready to do so then it’s a no-brainer, but clearly Staal isn’t ready – yet. Let’s just hope all the reasons for Staal’s return – whenever that may be – are the right ones.

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Alumni Game In Review

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The Flyers/Rangers Alumni Game this afternoon was one of the unexpected highs of hockey for me this year. I got to watch some of my favorite Rangers growing up lace up the skates one last time. There won’t be many bullet points, but here they are nonetheless.

  • The game was very slow moving, but that’s expected considering these guys are all in their 50s. The only guy who looked fresh was Marc Recchi, despite his Stanley Cup hangover.
  • I loved watching the Gartner-Messier-Graves combination. What a thrill. I haven’t seen that since I was nine years old.
  • Brian Leetch, still my idol.
  • Darren Turcotte still has some speed, doesn’t he? Gartner too.
  • It was great seeing Beezer and Blackburn in net. I still feel bad for Blackburn and his shoulder injury. This kid had a great future, and took the reigns as an 18 year old. Sad that his shoulder injury happened.
  • Darius Kasparaitis looked good too, he threw a nice hit too.
  • Eric Lindros and John LeClair didn’t miss a beat, did they?
  • Roenick is still really fun to watch.
  • I wasn’t around when guys like Maloney, King, Greshner, Duguay, etc were around, but I’m sure watching those guys lace the skates up again was chilling for those that grew up watching them. Duguay’s hair is unreal.

The game was really fun to watch, even if it was an old man beer league game. If you missed it, be sure to catch it on re-runs.

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Winter Classic Alumni Game

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is today (moved to 3pm from its original start time of 1pm). The Rangers and Flyers alumni will square off in an exhibition game that is sure to be a good time to watch. The rosters are below.

Game is at 3pm on Versus. The game will also be on tape delay on MSG starting at 4pm.


Bill Barber Glenn Anderson
Terry Carkner Dan Blackburn
Bob Clarke Paul Broten
Eric Desjardins Ron Duguay
Jim Dowd Nick Fotiu
Larry Goodenough Mike Gartner
Derian Hatcher Adam Graves
Al Hill Ron Greschner
Mark Howe Pat Hickey
Bob Kelly Darius Kasparaitis
Orest Kindrachuk Kris King
Mark LaForest Nick Kypreos
John LeClair Tom Laidlaw
Reggie Leach Darren Langdon
Eric Lindros Brian Leetch
Ken Linseman Dave Maloney
Neil Little Stephane Matteau
Brad Marsh Brian Mullen
Shjon Podein Dale Purinton
Dave Poulin Mathieu Schneider
Brian Propp Darren Turcotte
Mark Recchi John Vanbiesbrouck
Jeremy Roenick
Kjell Samuelsson COACHING STAFF
Chris Therien Mike Keenan
Rick Tocchet Emile Francis
Joe Watson Colin Campbell
Mike Richter
Pat Quinn Rod Gilbert
Mike Nykoluk Eddie Giacomin
Keith Primeau Harry Howell
Dave Schultz
Don Saleski
Bernie Parent
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Watch: 24/7 Episode 3

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In keeping up with the posting of 24/7 videos here, enjoy the third episode.

S/t to Adam Rotter of SNY Rangers Blog for finding this.

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