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NHL Outdoor Games Preview (Saturday-Sunday)

Matt Dominique | February 16, 2024

If you think the National Hockey League has taken the rink outside more and more, you’re not wrong. What was once a Winter Classic one-off has grown, the latest venue MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

There are consecutive-day (Saturday-Sunday) Stadium Series contests featuring four Metropolitan Division rivals. Here is a look at the two games…

 

Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils (Saturday evening) 

It’s the Philadelphia Flyers traversing the New Jersey Turnpike to take on the New Jersey Devils. As of this writing, the teams currently sit third (Flyers) and fourth (Devils) in the Metropolitan Division, separated by six points in the standings.

Philly, which played at Toronto Thursday night, entered that game having won its last four. New Jersey, hosting the Los Angeles Kings (also Thursday), whipped both the Seattle Kraken and Nashville Predators this week, but was just 5-7 in its last dozen.  

Philadelphia, under coach John Tortorella, has been one of the surprise teams to this point. Trying to secure a playoff berth after a four-season hiatus, the team has played (and won) any number of close games (2.91 goals per game, 2.83 goals against/game). 

Flyers Travis KonecnyTravis Konecny (25 goals, 24 assists, 49 points) and Joel Farrabee (17-24-41) lead the offense, while Sam Ersson (15-9-3, 2.49 goals against) has emerged as the go-to goaltender after the indefinite leave of absence taken by Carter Hart. 

Coach Lindy Ruff’s New Jersey Devils have been plagued by injuries and inconsistent play. As was mentioned above, just five wins in its last 12, but with solid defensive efforts in beating both Seattle and Nashville in recent games. 

Once a chic choice to win the title, Jersey is now priced at 25-1 (+2500), according to NHL Stanley Cup odds.

Jesper Bratt (20 goals, 36 assists, 56 points) leads the scoring, while both Jack Hughes (16 games) and Nico Hischier (11 games) have missed significant time with various maladies.

Goaltending has been iffy, as both Vitek Vanecek and Nico Dawes have surrendered more than three goals per game. 

It’s the third of four meetings on the season, with each team winning (in overtime) on the road.

Despite the inconsistencies, expect the New Jersey Devils to prevail at “home”. 

 

New York Rangers at New York Islanders (Sunday afternoon)

The second Jersey jaunt has the New York Rangers “visiting” the New York Islanders. These teams are more spread out in the standings, as the division-leading Rangers (71 points) are 14 points ahead of the fifth-place Islanders.  

New York (that’s the Rangers) brought a five-game winning streak (seven goals allowed) into Thursday night’s home date against the Montreal Canadiens. They blanked the visiting Calgary Flames, 2-0, this past Monday. 

It’s been the usual suspects on offense, as in Artemi Panarin (31 goals, 37 goals, 68 points), Chris Kreider (24-24-25) and Mika Zibanejad (16-32-48),

Rangers hockey Igor ShesterkinIgor Shesterkin (2.78 goals against) and the fountain-of-youth Jonathan Quick (2.27 GAA) have been about as potent of any goalie tandem in the league.

To the Islanders, who enter this game not having played since a 2-1 home loss to Seattle Tuesday night. New York is 3-5 since Hall-of-Fame goalie Patrick Roy replaced the fired Lane Lambert as coach.

Mathew Barzal (15 goals, 41 points, 56 points) and Noah Dobson (7-48-55) lead in scoring, but the Russian goalie combo of Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov has been shaky.

It’s taken this long to get the Rangers and Islanders together, first of four meetings this season. The Isles were 2-1 against the Rangers last season.

Expect a tight game, but the nod goes to coach Peter Laviolette’s road Rangers.

Lines not available, but once posted, please refer to NHL odds

 

 

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