NHL Winter Classic | US Olympic Team | NHL Rankings Reviewed

Winter Classic NHL Citi FieldThe NHL Winter classic turned 10 Jan 1, 2018 as the New York Rangers hosted the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in Queens, New York.  The Rangers squeaked on out in OT on the power play as J.T. Miller scored on a rebound for the 3-2 victory.  Although not to most anticipated game of the season as the Sabres have greatly underachieved, the novelty of watching an outdoor game was not lost.  Something about a game where obstacles such as sun, wind and shadows play a factor create a following that an average hockey fan will still tune in (being the only game on the NHL docket doesn’t hurt either).

Even the players continue to get excited.  Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (aka the King) would play annually outdoors, and why not he’s 4-0 now outside in NHL competition:

“I could easily play one every year and not get tired of it,” Henrik Lundqvist said after improving his and his team’s all-time outdoor record to 4-0 with their 3-2 overtime victory in which J.T. Miller got the walk-off. “It doesn’t get old to me.”

Full Article in the NY POST

Our hope is the NHL keeps the Winter Classic alive for now, but it’s time to see some new markets sprinkled in.  Imagine a New Year’s Day classic in Smashville (Nashville) or Las Vegas with the NHL’s newest addition, the Golden Knights.

US Men’s Olympic Team Announced

In between the 2nd and 3rd period of Monday’s Winter Classic the US Men’s Olympic team was announced.  This year’s announcement was probably more interesting in the past since the NHL announced this past summer that they would not be allowing NHL players to attend.  As the list was announced, many reporters quickly searched online since only a handful of the players are names recognizable.  They most notable former NHLers Brian Gionta, Matt Gilroy, Bobby Sanginetti, Marc Arcobello leading the way, with many other pro leagues represented.  Players from the KHL, AHL, NCAA (college) and many european leagues make up the roster.  Only one goalie was named (more will be added) Ryan Zapolski, G, Jokerit Helsinki (KHL).  His stats are good in the KHL, 32 games played with .935 save percentage and 1.68 GAA.

Lets wait and see what Canada’s team looks like, but it seems to me there will be great parody in the year’s Olympic tournament.

NHL Power Rankings

Here are our thoughts on the power rankings according to CBS Sports.

  • Number one is the Tampa Bay Lightning.  They are the best team in the NHL and have been for pretty much all season.  They have the NHL’s top forward in Nikita Kucherov who leads the NHL in goals (25) and points (56) as we enter 2018.  Pair that with a healthy Steven Stamkos (49 points) and Andrei Vasilevskiy who leads the NHL in all goaltending categories (minimum 15 games played).
  • The only team that could challenge the Lightning would be the Vegas Golden Knights.  Anyone who thought that Jan 1st 2018 the Knights would be second in the NHL in points, 1st in the Western Conference and 5th in NHL scoring is a liar.  This team is fun to watch and just getting better as time goes on.  Getting #1 goalie Marc Andre Fleury doesn’t hurt either.
  • The biggest jump was made by the Boston Bruins who moved up 12 spots from 20th to 8th.  The Bruins are 7-1-2 in their last 10 and now trail only the Lightning in the Atlantic Division.  Tuukka Rask is lights out in his last 5 going 5-0 and allowing only 5 goals in that span.

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