NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 26th (All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (27-23-3) at New Jersey Devils (22-19-11), 12:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Yankee Stadium is the home of the Bronx Bombers, but on Sunday afternoon it will open its gates to host the latest edition of the Hudson River Rivalry.
The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils clash at the famous ballpark in the continuation of the NHL's "Stadium Series" looking to continue pushes for playoff positioning.
These Metropolitan Division rivals are set to engage in the third outdoor game on the NHL's 2013-14 schedule. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings got things started with the Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Michigan Stadium, won in a shootout 3-2 by the Leafs, and the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings met on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Ducks blanked the Kings 3-0 in a game that featured a temperature of 62 degrees at opening faceoff. Things are expected to be much cooler in New York, where the Rangers will also serve as the road team on Wednesday against the New York Islanders at Yankee Stadium.
"I guess the conditions (Sunday) are supposed to be ideal except it's going to be a little cool. Let's go, let's bundle up and let's go play some hockey," said Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault.
The Rangers hope the shift in venues can help them solve the Devils for the first time this season. They are 0-2-1 versus New Jersey after winning three of the four meetings last season.
The Devils have won five of their last seven as the home team against the Blueshirts and will be making their outdoor debut.
The Rangers, meanwhile, visited the Philadelphia Flyers and Citizens Bank Park in the 2012 Winter Classic, winning 3-2. Brad Richards had the game winner and he is the only current Ranger who has scored a goal in a regular-season outdoor game.
Devils forward Michael Ryder is set to tie a record by playing in his third regular-season outdoor game, having played for Montreal in the 2003 Heritage Classic and for Boston in the 2010 Winter Classic. He had an assist on Richard Zednik's goal in the Canadiens' 4-3 win over Edmonton in 2003, the first ever goal scored in a regular-season outdoor game.
The Rangers are looking to avoid a third straight setback, having dropped back-to-back contests following a 7-1-1 stretch.
Still, New York has vaulted into second place in the division thanks to the run, while New Jersey is just one point back of the eight spot in the Eastern Conference after going 5-1-3 in its past nine games.
The Rangers were last in action on Thursday, dropping a 2-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues despite Rick Nash's 10th goal in 10 games. He scored with 1:43 to go in the second period, but also took a slashing call to give the Blues a power play, and St. Louis cashed in with Kevin Shattenkirk's game-winner.
"The difference was the power play," Vigneault remarked. "We had an advantage at the beginning of the third. We didn't get anything off it. Their power play did what they've done very effectively this year. Right off the draw they established a shot. Within a few seconds they take the shot, they score."
Henrik Lundqvist, who missed Tuesday's loss to the New York Islanders because of illness, finished with 23 saves in the setback, which featured the Ranger debut of defenseman Kevin Klein. He was acquired a day earlier from Nashville in exchange for blueliner Michael Del Zotto.
Nash will try to stay hot in the cold weather, having scored six times during a four-game goal streak. He had netted just seven goals in his previous 26 games before his current 10-goals-in-10-games run.
Lundqvist, who made 34 saves to beat the Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic, will start for the Rangers and is 28-14-6 with a 1.89 goals against average and seven shutouts in 48 career games with the Devils. He has started all three setbacks this season.
The Devils will be trying to win a third straight game and are coming off a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday. Cory Schneider made 30 saves and the Devils got goals from Adam Henrique and Stephen Gionta.
Jaromir Jagr had two assists to give him 1,033 in his career, tied with former teammate Mario Lemieux for 10th on the all-time list.
Schneider moved to 5-1-2 in his last eight starts dating back to Dec. 28 with a 0.96 GAA and .961 save percentage.
"Cory has given us great goaltending," Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said. "He was the difference."
Despite that run of success, DeBoer will start Devils icon Martin Brodeur in this outdoor event, a decision that Schneider said following the win over the Caps that he would be okay with.
"It's a pretty special game and Marty's been a big part of this (franchise) and gotten a lot of wins for us this year," Schneider said. "Whether (DeBoer) picks him or me, I don't think it changes the way we feel about it or how we play it. We both trust each other and respect the way we're playing."
Brodeur is set to make his 100th career regular-season start versus the Rangers and is 49-30-5 against them lifetime with 15 ties, nine shutouts and a 2.13 GAA. He has beaten them twice in two starts this season.
"It really is an easy decision from a right thing to do perspective. I mean, you know, his career, 20 years with the Devils, what he's done, and also he's played some excellent hockey for us this year," said DeBoer of starting Brodeur.
Added Brodeur, "I would have accepted it one way or the other. They decided to go with me. So we're in a situation that sometimes we get these games that mean a lot to different people for different reasons. And I guess they felt it meant a lot to me and they put me in."
01/26 12:36:53 ET