On Christmas Eve Saturday, New Yorkers everywhere tuned in as the New York Giants faced the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Despite getting off to an excellent start, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the Jets looked very much like the weaker of the two teams all game long. They could not find a big play when they needed it, and made key mistakes – none larger than Victor Cruz’s 99 yard TD catch – which cost them the game.
On Monday night at Madison Square Garden two Atlantic division rivals faced off, and again New Yorkers tuned in to watch their teams compete. This time it was the New York Rangers facing the New York Islanders. And despite a few stretches of the game where the Islanders looked to control the play, the reality is that like the Jets, they played their part of weaker team to the Rangers for the majority of the game.
It’s difficult not to acknowledge the Winter Classic these days.
With the annual outdoor event slowly creeping up on us, the collective mind of the hockey world is obsessed with the outdoor showdown that will be taking place in Philadelphia on January 2nd.
With all the networks gearing up their coverage, Friday night’s game between the Flyers and Rangers had a different tone than a game in late December typical has had in the past.
While all the major networks played up the fact that it was the final meeting prior to the Classic, many forgot to mention that the game was more than just a hype machine for the mega event a little over a week away.
This game also decided who would go into the holiday break with control of first place in the Atlantic Division as well as first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders are heading into the Big Apple to face their archrivals, the New York Rangers. Coming off back-to-back shootout wins (courtesy of Frans Neilsen and his patented forehand-backhand-top shelf move), the young Isles team is carrying a bit of momentum into the World’s Greatest Arena. They are playing with more confidence and finding ways to win hockey games.
This is a good thing. Because they will need every ounce of momentum, confidence, skill, (and maybe even a little luck) to leave Madison Square Garden with 2 points against the Rangers in tonight’s contest.
The Rangers (with 3 games in hand) are currently tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they each have managed 42 points so far this season.
When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees.
Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without their having to be any major changes to the roster.
Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive.
Since 2008, the Winter Classic has proven to be one of the most anticipated events of the NHL calendar year.
However, a newer component to the Classic has emerged, one that may actually be just as exciting as the game itself.
HBO’s all-access series, “24/7” began it’s coverage of the Winter Classic last season when it filmed the build-up to the outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
This season’s series will do the same, except this time the focus will be upon the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers as the two teams gear-up for their outdoor event at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park on January 2.
The series made its premiere on Wednesday night and did not disappoint.
The Winter Classic saw it's first preview of the season with the two teams squaring off at center ring in Madison Square Garden. But it was New York who threw the first punches in their 2-0 shut out win Saturday afternoon.