The New York Rangers have had Jan. 1 circled on their calendar since last year. With Christmas behind us, the team is getting ready to participate in the 10th anniversary of the Winter Classic.
The New York Rangers have two games remaining before the 2018 Winter Classic. Though there are four points up for grabs in the games on Wednesday and Friday night, it’s hard not to look ahead to what most players consider a reminder of days back when they were kids playing the game for fun.
Since the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008, the Rangers have participated in three outdoor hockey games.
The first one was the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The game was held at Lincoln Financial Field where the Rangers defeated the Flyers 3-2 in front of 46,967 fans. This game had a few classic moments for Ranger fans. With the Rangers down 2-0 in the first period, the Blueshirts battled back with two goals by Mike Rupp and the game-winner by Brad Richards.
Rupp’s first goal against the Flyers was named the Jagr Salute, as he mocked Jaromir Jagr after he scored the goal.
The highlight of the game, though, was the penalty shot awarded to Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere with only 19 seconds left in the game.
The Rangers also participated in two Stadium Series contests held at Yankee Stadium. The first game was on Jan. 26, 2014, against the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers handed the Devils a 7-3 loss as Dominic Moore, Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello (2), Carl Hagelin, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan all scored for the Rangers. The temperature at the start of the game (delayed an hour due to sun glare on the ice) was 25 degrees.
Three nights later on Jan. 29, the Rangers battled the Islanders in a cold, hard-fought game. The opening face-off time was 7:44 p.m. ET with a temperature of 22 degrees as the Islanders and Rangers kicked off the second Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium. This game was a close contest throughout the night as the Rangers skated to a 2-1 victory. Benoit Pulliot and Daniel Carcillo, who scored the game-winner at 4:36 of the third period, did all the damage for the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist was a constant in all three of these outdoor games as he took the win in each of them. ”I felt more calm and in a good place when the game started,” Lundqvist said. ”I think the preparation was a little bit better, but I was definitely more relaxed,.” Hank told the Associated Press (via CBS Sports) in a postgame interview following the win over the Isles.
The Rangers now will participate in their fourth outdoor game and their second Winter Classic. Several of the players on the Rangers team now played in those three games previously. Experience is definitely a factor in playing in these outdoor games but is not a defining factor to get a win.
The Rangers and Buffalo Sabres will both come out ready to fight for the two-point on the table. It may be fun for the fans, even the players, but once it comes time for the puck to be dropped its game on.