Updated: January 26, 2014, 9:59 PM ET

Just A Thought


Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: It was a play that might have been easy to overlook given the Yankee Stadium backdrop, the complaints about the conditions and the yanking of future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, but we took special note of the New York Rangers' third goal in Sunday's 7-3 whipping of the New Jersey Devils. It was a goal by Mats Zuccarello early in the second period, one of two he would score in the frame, and it was set up by a great play by defenseman John Moore, who jumped in the play and raced down the left side before making a grand pass to Zuccarello driving to the net. The goal tied the game at 3, but it highlighted one of the reasons the Rangers traded defenseman Michael Del Zotto to Nashville last week for Kevin Klein. The Rangers wanted Moore playing on the left side and hoped that adding the right-handed Klein would help Moore get back on track offensively. If this is the kind of play the Rangers will see more frequently, the trade will indeed pay handsome dividends.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: Panthers coach Peter Horachek is like most coaches in that he likes to break the season into segments to help keep his team focused. Their current segment is an easy one. The Panthers entered Sunday's game against the Red Wings with seven games remaining until the Olympic break, all against the East, all against teams in front of them in the standings. To him, it's like a seven-game series the Panthers have to win, and it got off to a nice start with a shootout win over the Red Wings. The victory pulled them to within eight points of the Wings for the final wild-card playoff spot. Considering there are just four Panthers games between the break and the trade deadline, this seven-game stretch could determine GM Dale Tallon's game plan at the deadline.

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: One of the concerns the NHL privately had about holding a record six outdoor games is just how stretched its staff would be, logistically, in trying to pull it all off, most notably with back-to-back games this past weekend in Los Angeles and New York. The situation is similar to the final two back-to-back outdoor games in Chicago and Vancouver in early March. Brodeur blasted the ice conditions at Yankee Stadium, a game in which he got pulled after 40 minutes, having allowed six goals. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault also said he was surprised how poor the ice was, so the complaints weren't just from the losing side. These are the first of the NHL's outdoor games I've watched from home, and I got the fan perspective. Dodger Stadium looked out-of-this-world, as unique a setting as the league has had, but the league wants to decide just how much is too much in terms of taxing its staff, which no doubt worked around the clock over the past week to pull off the double-dip in L.A. and New York.

Katie Strang@KatieStrangESPN: Brodeur getting the hook in Sunday's Stadium Series game in the Bronx was the big news of the day, and watching that cringe-worthy meltdown had to be uncomfortable for Devils coach Pete DeBoer. Just one day earlier, DeBoer had discounted the significant statistical differences between Brodeur and Cory Schneider this season -- thereby justifying his decision to start the 41-year-old veteran -- but it's hard to imagine he will ignore what is plain to see now. DeBoer has always been in a no-win situation with his goaltending tandem, trying to maintain the delicate balance between deference to a player who has done so much for the Devils organization and rewarding the guy who has truly played much better this season. Starting Brodeur against the Rangers probably was the "right" thing to do for the future Hall of Famer, as was waiting for the second intermission to remove him from the game, but the Devils can't afford to sacrifice points on account of hurt feelings and bruised egos at this point in the season. It sure looks like it's time to ride Schneider the rest of the way.

Picture This

Zack KassianAP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl DyckZack Kassian lost his footing against Phoenix, but the Canucks won the game.


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