Michael Finewax

Hockey Daily Dose

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The Winter Classic

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


The New Year always begins with lots of resolutions for the upcoming year but to a hockey fan, at least the last 10 years, it means the Winter Classic.

 

This year the game was played at Citi Field in New York, the fourth time the Rangers had played in an outdoor game and the second Winter Classic.

 

And for the fourth straight time, the Rangers were deemed the away team as tax laws with Madison Square Garden ensure that anytime the Rangers play a home game in New York City MSG must host the game, otherwise they lose their tax-exempt status.

 

Connor Hellebuyck was named the first star of the week as he was 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and a .52 save percentage.

 

The Golden Knights William Karlsson was the second star as he had four goals and an assist including the hat trick and an assist against the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday.

 

David Backes was the third star of the week with three goals and three assists in three games as he had two points in every game. Backes is up to seven goals and 15 points in 20 games and has 21 penalty minutes.

 

The Islanders finally sent Anthony Beauvillier to the minors. The Islanders first round pick and 28th overall in 2015 had only four goals and seven points in 31 games this season.

 

Finally, Dustin Byfuglien could return to the Winnipeg lineup as early as Tuesday. He has been out for the last 10 games with a lower body injury. The defenseman has yet to score this season after scoring 70 goals over the last four seasons.

 

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NEW YORK RANGERS 3 BUFFALO 2 (Overtime)

 

The Winter Classic was the only game on the docket for the NHL on Monday and the outdoor game was quite exciting as it went into overtime before a winner was decided.

 

J.T. Miller was the hero of the game as he potted the power play winner in overtime 28 seconds after Jacob Josefson was sent to the penalty box for tripping Jimmy Vesey.

 

Paul Carey and Michael Grabner gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period. Carey on a wrist shot from the slot after Jesper Fast found him. Boo Nieves got the secondary assist but did yeoman’s work in digging the puck out from the corner.

 

Michael Grabner scored his 18th of the season, all at even strength, to make it 2-0 with Jimmy Hayes and Miller picking up the assists. Grabner is second overall in even strength goals to Nikita Kucherov who has 22.

 

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Sam Reinhart, who had not had a point in his last eight games, scored on the power play in the second period to cut the lead in half. Kyle Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen drew the assists.

 

Ristolainen scored his second of the season in the third period as his shot from the blueline eluded Henrik Lundqvist.  He has 13 points this season in 30 games but has two goals and two assists in his last two contests. He is worth looking at again in most pools as he had 45 points in 79 games last season.

 

The Rangers outshot the Sabres 42-33. Robin Lehner was terrific making 39 saves but took the overtime loss. He is 9-14-6 with a 2.75 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

 

Lundqvist made 31 saves for the win as he boosted his record to 18-9-4 with a 2.56 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Lundqvist has been one of the better goalies in the last couple of months in the NHL and should be active in most leagues.

 

Kyle Okposo had a pair of assists for the Sabres.

 

Hayes and Okposo each led their respective teams with five shots on goal.

 

Next year’s Winter Classic will take place at Notre Dame University as the Chicago Blackhawks entertain the Boston Bruins in a battle of original six teams.   

 



Michael Finewax is entering his 13th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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