Sunday afternoon the New Jersey Devils will wrap up their three game home stand when they battle their arch rivals the New York Rangers in a game played at Yankee Stadium. The game is part of the NHL’s Stadium Series, which features a number of games played in iconic venues across the country. Besides the Devils-Rangers matchup, the Rangers will also play the New York Islanders in Yankee Stadium on January 29th. The Stadium Series kicks off this evening when the Anaheim Ducks play against the Los Angeles Kings in Dodger stadium, and concludes on March 1st with the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins playing at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Devils will get their first chance to skate on the ice rink that is located across the infield when they practice today at noon. To commemorate such a special event, the Devils will wear their retro themed red, green, and white jerseys that the team wore when the franchise first moved to New Jersey in 1982. The Rangers will wear a jersey that was designed specifically for their Stadium Series game, featuring a new age chrome logo on the front. Martin Brodeur has been announced as the starting goaltender for the Devils, and it will be his third start against the Rangers this season. New Jersey won both games Brodeur started against New York, 3-2 and 4-3 in overtime.
Despite Yankee Stadium being located in the Bronx, New York, the Devils will be the home team for the game. They look to close out this three game stretch of home games on a high note, having already registered two huge wins, Tuesday night over the St. Louis Blues 7-1 and last night against the division rival Washington Capitals by a score of 2-1. Cory Schneider started both games in net, and stopped 56 of the 58 shots he faced. Schneider has now improved his personal record to .500 for the first time this season (9-9-7).
The New Jersey Devils have never participated in an outdoor game before, so playing in Yankee Stadium will be one of the most memorable events in the franchise’s history. But it cannot be lost on the players the importance of coming out of the game with two points. The standings do not get put on hold just because the setting of the game is more meaningful than normal. As it stands right now the Devils are just one point out of a playoff spot, in both the wild card and division standings, and the Rangers are going to be one of the many teams the Devils will be battling for the rest of the season to get into the playoffs.
I’m anticipating the Devils to start slowly in this game, as only Jaromir Jagr (2012 Winter Classic) and Michael Ryder (2003 Heritage Classic and 2010 Winter Classic) have ever played in an outdoor game before, and playing outdoors can take some time to get used to. A large majority of the Rangers’ roster participated in the 2012 Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers, including goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Ultimately both teams are very familiar with one another, and come into the game playing some of their best hockey of the season. It should make for a very entertaining afternoon for the fan bases of both teams to enjoy.