The outdoor NHL series is about more than the games being played – they’re about the whole production and experience. Sunday’s Rangers-Devils game in Yankee Stadium capped off a weekend of NHL fun, but are six outdoor games in one year too many?
Sunday’s Yankee Stadium outdoor hockey game was set to a much different background than the NHL outdoor game from the night before. There were no palm trees or beach volleyball courts, but the usual cool, snowy weather provided another majestic backdrop.
The Stadium Series may lead to criticism of producing too much of a good thing, but each new field has its own standout characteristic or two.
Sunday’s game between the Rangers and Devils stood out for the amount of goals that were scored. Martin Brodeur was not at is best, letting in six goals on 21 shots and being pulled after two periods. Mats Zuccarello was New York’s leader with two goals in the second period that tied the game, then took the lead. The Rangers never looked back and romped the Devils 7-3 after trailing by two in the first period.
When you accept these outdoor games as the spectacles they are and that the on-ice product won’t be quite as good as any regular game – but still enjoyable – they are successful shows. Having Jaromir Jagr get two assists to pass Mario Lemieux on the all-time list and Patrik Elias score two goals in the snow? Even if this outdoor series continues, that’s a once in a lifetime show from two greats and it’s just plain fun to see.
Isn’t that what the outdoor games are about? Fun? They give us something different to see, look forward to and, if you get a ticket, experience that we never could have thought of when players like Jagr, Elias and Teemu Selanne were young NHLers. The Stadium Series has proven a successful experiment so far, with terrific and terrible weather breathing something extra into each game. But how long should it go on?
Is the Stadium Series something you’d like to see continue on, or should this many outdoor games in a season be a one-off? There are still three more to go this year. Yankee Stadium will host another between the Rangers and Islanders Wednesday, before Chicago and Vancouver both host in early March.
By then, the fatigue over outdoor games will spread, but it can never detract from the event. They’re celebrations, after all,
The outdoor novelty seems destined to end up as an annual All-Star Game and may not be around in the regular season forever. And if it does go, these games will be fun to look back on. Put simply: they’re cool. And for six games on a 1,230-game schedule, why can’t we have a little fun?