The 2014 NHL Stadium Series is one of the major changes the league made this offseason, and the excitement surrounding four more outdoor games this year has grown since the success of the Winter Classic.
The inaugural game of the newly developed concept kicks off Saturday, Jan. 25, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles when the Anaheim Ducks square off against the Kings.
After the matchup in Southern California, the next stop on the schedule is Yankee Stadium, where the New York Rangers will play two games, battling the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, respectively.
The final stop is Soldier Field, where the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle.
Here is all the vital viewing information for the 2014 NHL Stadium Series and a preview of this weekend’s matchups.
|2014 NHL Stadium Series Schedule|
|Saturday, Jan. 25||9:30 p.m.||Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings||Dodger Stadium||NBC Sports Network|
|Sunday, Jan. 26||12:30 p.m.||New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils||Yankee Stadium||NBC|
|Wednesday, Jan. 29||7:30 p.m.||New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders||Yankee Stadium||NBC Sports Network|
|Saturday, March 1||8 p.m.||Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks||Soldier Field||NBC|
Breaking Down This Weekend’s Matchups
Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings
The opening game of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series will feature the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium in Southern California on Saturday, Jan. 25.
While Los Angeles isn’t typically associated with outdoor hockey games, the league used a team of scientists and engineers to build a rink despite the sunny conditions and warm temperatures, according to Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com.
These two teams battled on Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Honda Center, with the Ducks prevailing 2-1, and now the Pacific Division foes will take their rivalry to an outdoor rink.
Ben Lovejoy of the Ducks talked about what the matchup means for him, according to Dan Rosen of NHL.com:
When this game [at Dodger Stadium] was announced, this is a game that I circled on my calendar. I wanted to be in the lineup. I wanted to be playing well. This is a huge moment for hockey and everybody wants to be part of it. ...
... This is such a big deal for hockey in Southern California. You can see from the game [Thursday night] that there is a huge rivalry and I think it'll be fun to showcase that to the rest of North America.
Hockey fans love hard-hitting action, and the familiarity between these two franchises should spawn legitimate animosity. As this game grinds on, expect the physicality to pick up.
With a great game on tap and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere, there is no better way to kick off the NHL Stadium Series.
Predicted final score: Anaheim 4, Los Angeles 2
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils
Neither the New York Rangers nor the New Jersey Devils have performed at an elite level consistently this season, but with the chance for these teams to shine in front of the New York City crowd at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 26, they should be motivated.
The Metropolitan Division rivals bring their best against each other, especially since they met in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils won that series in six games.
With a national television audience and international interest, this game will be the chance New York needs to prove it is one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Led by forwards Brad Richards and Rick Nash, the Rangers could use wins in their two outdoor games to stay ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers for second in the division.
New Jersey is a strong defensive team that will give New York fits, but the Rangers have far more offensive firepower than the Devils and should be able to pull out a close game.
Predicted final score: New York 3, New Jersey 2
All stats via NHL.com.