Stadium Series grades: Rangers blitz Devils 7-3 at Yankee Stadium

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Zuccarello celebrates one of his two goals at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)
Zuccarello celebrates one of his two goals at Yankee Stadium. (Getty Images)

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TeamGradeAnalysis
B+It was a slow start for the Blueshirts; they were on the wrong end of play during the first part of the game but in the second period came out buzzing. They really poured it on the Devils, making their rivals press and the Rangers pounced. Credit where it's due, with the puck hopping a bit more than normal, the Rangers were able to execute their odd-man rushes and really test Martin Brodeur, a test that they made him fail.
DThe Devils definitely came ready to play but that tapered off quickly. They had the jump to start the game and it helped them build up a 3-1 lead in the first period. But this game was far from what we've come to expect from the Devils. They were continually caught making awful turnovers, picking the wrong times to get aggressive and just weren't the usually strong possession team they normally are.
A-This game wasn't the smash hit the Winter Classic was (or that LA was in this writer's opinion) but aside from a quick delay to start, there was little to complain about at Yankee Stadium. The ice surface was very good -- it helps with the weather cooperating -- and finally the NHL got to play a game at the House that Ruth Built, something many of us have long waited to see. Fact is, a lot more people cared about this game than if it were played indoors, and that's a positive for the NHL in late January.
BHenrik Lundqvist didn't have the most sterling first period ever. He was a bit too aggressive and it helped to burn him to the tune of three first-period goals for the Devils. But his offense gave him "run" support in Yankee Stadium and he got into his comfort zone, staying pretty quiet (in his style of play, that is) the rest of the game and made sure the offensive barrage more than stood up. Not his best game but he didn't have to be great.
A-Mats Zuccarello continued what has been a terrific season by contributing two goals to the effort. He's small but he had the speed and awareness to get involved in the Rangers' rushes and deserves full marks for his ability to finish with goals on a surface that was pretty good but not perfect.
AMarc Staal had an OK day, wouldn't you say? He finished with a goal -- one that was a bit fluky but that's what happens when you put the puck on net -- and an assist while playing 18:31 of ice time on the back end. He was credited with four shots and goal and was a plus-4 on the day (groan all you want about the stat, but that's still a nice number for one game).
FMartin Brodeur got the start in somewhat of a legacy decision and it was tough to argue on this day. Only problem was, Brodeur had the worst game of his career against the Rangers. He stopped only 15 of the 21 shots that he saw through two periods. The real downer was the very soft goal he allowed late in the first period, a goal that started a run of six consecutive goals for the Rangers. Then in the second period, he gave up three goals on three consecutive shots. Probably the only thing that saved him from a mercy pull was the cold weather and the risk that presented to his backup, Cory Schneider.
D-Andy Greene gets the facial recognition here but this is really for the Devils' entire blue line, which certainly did not put the D in defense. Greene was guilty of turning the puck over in the neutral zone in the second period that led to a Rangers goal, just one of numerous instances the Devils defense surrendered an odd-man rush to the Rangers. They took chances on D when pressed in the second period and it really backfired. Brodeur had an awful day but his defense did him no favors at all.
B+

At least the Devils had Patrik Elias as a bright spot in the game. Granted, he was simply in the right spot at the right time when Ryane Clowe and Jaromir Jagr made some outstanding passes but he scored two goals in the first period. The one from Jagr was a tap-in but the first goal was a shot he simply wired past Henrik Lundqvist. But as is always the case with Elias, his performance was overshadowed by something else, in this case his team's failures.

 
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