Outdoor game doesn’t make Rangers/Isles tilt a whirlwind of thrills

Adam Proteau
Stadium Series Rangers Islanders

From an entertainment standpoint, the New York Rangers’ 2-1 win Wednesday over the New York Islanders was the least exciting outdoor game of the NHL’s ambitious 2014 Stadium Series. And although the Rangers were victorious playing at baseball’s Yankee Stadium for the second time in four days, their defeat of the Islanders proved only that the Stanley Cup is unlikely to be won by a New York state team this season – and that outdoor hockey doesn’t make bad hockey more fun to watch.

This was not Saturday’s end-to-end, offense-filled spectacle between the Blueshirts and New Jersey Devils that ended with the Rangers winning 7-3. The eventual shot total (the Rangers finished with 34, the Isles with 31) Wednesday would tempt you to think the night was more thrilling than it actually was: the two teams combined for exactly two scoring chances (both by the Rangers) in the first 14 minutes of the game, and two-thirds of the evening’s scoring came in a 40-second span at the end of the opening frame. Even a late third period push by Isles superstar John Tavares couldn’t boost the thrill factor. Forget about the ice conditions – this felt more like a dreary, mid-season NHL game between two teams that realize their deficiencies and employ a tentative game to make up for them.

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Rangers, Devils game in Yankee Stadium caps off NHL weekend of fun

Rory Boylen
Yankee Stadium

Sunday’s Yankee Stadium outdoor hockey game was set to a much different background than the NHL outdoor game from the night before. There were no palm trees or beach volleyball courts, but the usual cool, snowy weather provided another majestic backdrop.

The Stadium Series may lead to criticism of producing too much of a good thing, but each new field has its own standout characteristic or two.

Sunday’s game between the Rangers and Devils stood out for the amount of goals that were scored. Martin Brodeur was not at is best, letting in six goals on 21 shots and being pulled after two periods. Mats Zuccarello was New York’s leader with two goals in the second period that tied the game, then took the lead. The Rangers never looked back and romped the Devils 7-3 after trailing by two in the first period. Read more

NHL ice guru 100 percent confident ice will be good at Dodger Stadium game

Jason Kay
Dodger Stadium

An innocuous Tweet the other day about the uptick of ticket sales in Los Angeles for the outdoor game prompted a minor backlash.

Followers said:

“And they hope to have ice, or something like it?”

“Have fun skating in soup.”

“I can’t wait until this disaster is over and done with.”

It is indeed the No. 1 question on people’s minds in regards to the game between the Kings and Ducks Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium. How will the ice stay frozen and playable?

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Look for yourself in this amazing zoomable image from the Winter Classic

Brian Costello
Panoramic

Interested in seeing yourself shivering in the Big House stands for the New Year’s Day Winter Classic?

If you were there, check out this panoramas website and identify yourself. Thousands of others have already done that and you can see they’ve tagged themselves. The panoramic image is a 26 billion pixel zoomable shot that includes almost all of the 105,000-plus faces that attended the game in Ann Arbor, Mich.

I was fortunate enough to attend the game with my boss and our spouses. It was a terrific couple of days. Editor-in-chief Jason Kay came over to my desk in earnest this morning asking me if I had any luck spotting us on the zoomable image. Like JK, I spent a few minutes honing in on section 26, row 72, seats 22 through 25.

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24/7 episode 4 recap: The sweet spot

Matt Larkin
winterclassic

Episode rating: 4/5

Warning: Some clips in this post contain coarse language and/or graphic imagery.

Point and shoot.

When your hockey documentary series pits two Original Six franchises against each other before 105,491 fans outdoors in a snowstorm, that’s all you need to do. Aim the camera on the action and press record. The stuff writes itself.

And that’s why the finale of 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs goes off without a hitch. It lets us take in the sights and sounds in the moments before, during and after last week’s Winter Classic.

It’s hard to screw up this kind of episode, but I shouldn’t sell HBO’s effort short. Aside from the hockey action, it also finds its sweet spot and extracts the most candid dialogue from the players all season (episode 2 was raw beauty, but belonged to coaches Mike Babcock and Randy Carlyle).

The Wings and Leafs seem more comfortable on camera at this point. Maybe that’s because, ironically enough, they are more uncomfortable than teams previously featured and relax knowing the experience is almost over.

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Winter Classic is a feast for the senses – and isn’t about the results

Adam Proteau
2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – In essence, the NHL’s annual Winter Classic outdoor game is like improv comedy: when it’s good, it’s excellent – and when it’s not good, well, you probably don’t want to stick around for all that long to see the end.

Fortunately for the world’s top league, there has never been a full-on weather disaster to completely derail what has become a marquee event. And the 2014 game at Michigan Stadium was no different; in spite of blustery winter weather and driving conditions best described by not describing them at all, the picture at the sixth Winter Classic Wednesday morning looked like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Once again, the NHL looked like it had Mother Nature on its payroll.

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Will Winter Classic set attendance record? Big House is the place to do it

(Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Garrett Perry

It’s been dubbed the Big House: Michigan Stadium. A place where Heisman Trophy winners have been crowned, football history written and attendance records shattered.

Home of the Michigan Wolverines for almost a century, it’s the largest stadium in the United States, and third largest in the world. It has an official capacity of 109,901, but it’s held crowds in excess of 110,000 on numerous occasions.

And while the classic venue is widely recognized for its boisterous crowds during Wolverine football games, it has a history with hockey as well.

On Dec. 11, 2010, the Michigan Wolverines played the Michigan State Spartans in the Cold War II, an outdoor hockey game that drew 104,073 spectators and obliterated previous hockey attendance records by almost 25,000. The record still stands today. The event was officially advertised as the Big Chill at the Big House, and would see the Wolverines defeat their archrival by a score of 5-0. Read more