On this day off the middle of the Stadium Series, some things to ponder as we get ready for the real deep-freeze game tomorrow, Rangers-Islanders at Yankee Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
First, I think the Rangers learned a valuable lesson Sunday about the ice. It was chippy, very bad—and not just because Martin Brodeur said so. It was bad. So if you are patient, especially between the blue lines, you will get some turnovers and be able to counter. The Rangers made a rout out of that Sunday. The Devils, not so much.
So I’m sure that Alain Vigneault will, at practice today, hammer it into his guys’ heads to take care of the puck from inside their blue line to the Islanders’ blue line, to make simple plays, use the glass and walls, and wait for your breaks. They will come.
However, in the last Rangers-Islanders game, the Rangers did not take care of the puck well at all, and they got their doors kicked in on Madison Square Garden’s ice, even though they led that game 3-1 (sound familiar?). The Islanders are a skating team, too, and more physical than the Rangers. So whichever team can avoid the neutral-zone cough-ups is likely to get more odd-man rushes on the counter-attack.
Now, about that ice. A lot of people, self included, laughed at Brodeur’s claim that it was the worst ice on which he’d ever played. Not saying he wasn’t right, not at all. It may have been. But I, among others, chirped in that this is coming from a guy who played more than 50 games at the Garden.
Well, I did some checking. The NHL’s ice surfaces are constantly rated by officials and visiting team players. Guess what. The Garden’s ice rates somewhere in the middle of the pack (not sure where in the middle, but not at the bottom), and is almost always rated higher than Prudential Center’s ice. FWIW.
Also, if I’m Vigneault, I’m not starting Cam Talbot Wednesday. I could be wrong, but I think that rink in that stadium was difficult for all the players, including the goalies, in terms of depth perception and picking up the puck. If I’m Vigneault, I want Henrik Lundqvist, having already battled through a tough period in Yankee Stadium, back in goal.
The Rangers will not practice at Yankee Stadium today or Wednesday. Their morning skate will be in Greenburgh. The Islanders will skate at the Stadium today. Also, let’s not forget this is a home-and-home. The teams play again at the Garden Friday.
One more thing. Daniel Carcillo sure told a few people that he intends to have a fight at Yankee Stadium against the Islanders. I imagine several Islanders are very much aware of that.
A ratings note from NBC:
Sunday’s NHL Stadium Series matchup on NBC between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils from Yankee Stadium (1:27-4:30 p.m. ET) averaged 2.079 million viewers and produced a 1.3 HH rating, making it the most-watched and highest-rated single NHL regular-season game ever on NBC, both excluding NHL Winter Classics, according to Fast National data from The Nielsen Company.
The broadcast peaked in the 3-3:30 p.m. ET (1.5 HH rating and 2.299 million) half hour, which came in the second half of the Rangers’ four-goal second period, as they scored six unanswered goals to defeat the Devils 7-3.
Locally, the Rangers-Devils game generated a 5.1 rating in New York, matching the highest rating in the New York market for any NHL game ever broadcast on NBC (Gm. 1 LA-NJ Stanley Cup Final, 5/30/12). Sunday’s broadcast generated the best-ever rating in the New York market for an NHL regular-season game on NBC. NBC was the No. 1 network in the New York market within the 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET time period.
Photos by Getty Images.