NEW YORK, NY – When Chris Kreider left the NY Rangers’ Wednesday night’s tilt against the Capitals, there were rumors that he had been traded; possibly for Ottawa All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson. The Rangers were quick to dispel those rumors saying Kreider was injured. The 26-year old has a blood clot in his arm and he could miss two months.
It’s not how the Blueshirts want to bring in the New Year. They’re fighting for a playoff berth and they need their top talent going forward. Vinni Lettieri has been called up to replace Kreider. Lettieri is young gun in the truest sense; he isn’t shy about shooting. It may be what the Rangers need.
We’ll get a chance to see Lettieri tonight as they travel to Detroit for an Original Six battle before their New Year’s Day outdoor affair against DJ Eberle’s Buffalo Sabres at CitiField. It’s the tenth Winter Classic and it’s going to be a cold one. The high on New Years Day is going to be 18 degrees. Should make for some fast ice and slow goal-tending. These games are fun to watch but the novelty has worn off. I would have liked to see the NHL try to play this game in Central Park or the National Mall instead of another baseball or football stadium.
I know why they do it.
At this point they’re making too much money to change now. Next year’s Winter Classic should be interesting. The Blackhawks and Bruins will play each other at Notre Dame Stadium.
Monday’s outdoor affair will be the second Winter Classic for both the Rangers and Sabres. Buffalo took part in the first Winter Classic in 2008 (see the video), losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Shootout. The Blueshirts beat the Flyers in the 2012 Classic in Philly. I’m thinking that Monday’s game will be a high scoring affair with the Rangers giving up shots at record pace. It’s also no stretch to say the weather will be a factor.
The Broadway Blues are holding onto a Wild Card spot right now. The Islanders hold the other Wild Card right now and the Hurricanes and Penguins are chasing. The Devils are still surprising everyone and sit atop the Metropolitan Division even on 49 points with the Capitals but with three games in hand. There is a lot of hockey left to be played so it’s still anyone’s division. The Penguins will surely sort themselves out and make a run.
BOTTOM LINE: The Rangers will need to keep winning games and to do that they will need to give up fewer shots. For some reason Nick Holden is still on the team and is being paired with Ryan McDonagh. Shattenkirk, while great on the power play, has been inconsistent on the blue line during 5-on-5 play. Brady Skjei has been good but the Rangers need help. Trading for Karlsson would solve some issues but would create a host of others. The Swedish blue-liner is know for his offensive production and not for being a shut-down defenseman. The Rangers need someone to steady the ship at the back and take some pressure off of Henrik Lundqvist. Time will tell what moves the Rangers make.
That’s all for me today. Happy New Year to everyone in Mattville. Come back tomorrow for another Buffalonian, @JunoirBlaber.