N.H.L. This Week: Third Outdoor Game Has a Back Story


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Workers prepared an ice rink at Coors Field in Denver for Saturday’s outdoor game between the Avalanche and the Red Wings.

Credit
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Every Tuesday, The New York Times will look at the week ahead in the N.H.L., highlighting hot — or not so hot — teams and players. (All times Eastern.)

Games to Watch

Rangers at Blues, Thursday, 8 p.m.

These are two of the hottest teams in the league, despite major injury problems. The Rangers have won seven of 10 without both Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh for most of those games. McDonagh will not play Tuesday against the Devils, but he is expected to make the trip to St. Louis and Dallas. The Blues have won five of six and are on the tail of the Blackhawks and the Stars in the Central Division, but have 220 man-games lost to injury. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Alex Steen are on the mend. Jake Allen returned from an injury this week only to have his fellow goalie Brian Elliott leave Monday’s loss to San Jose with an injury.

Red Wings at Avalanche, Saturday, 8 p.m. (NBC)

The season’s third and final outdoor N.H.L. game is at Coors Field in Denver, but the main event may be the alumni game on Friday. The boxing reference was intentional. The richest years of the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the teams met five times in the playoffs in seven years and won five Stanley Cups between them. They also despised each other. The inciting incident was Colorado’s Claude Lemieux knocking Detroit’s Kris Draper face-first into the boards in the 1996 playoffs, causing a broken jaw, nose and cheekbone. What do you know? Lemieux and Draper are on the alumni game rosters. In fact, 20 players who were involved in the infamous 1997 game between the teams that turned into a melee are scheduled to participate in the alumni event.

Capitals at Blackhawks, Sunday, 12:30 p.m. (NBC)

Washington remains the runaway leader in the East, while Chicago entered the week clinging to the top spot in the West, after losing four of six, including a 6-1 loss to Minnesota on Sunday that Corey Crawford called “embarrassing.” The Capitals won the other meeting between the teams this season, 4-1, on Oct. 15.

Kings at Ducks, Sunday, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)

It was unfathomable a month ago that this game could be for first place in the Pacific Division. Since losing to the Kings on Jan. 17, the Ducks are 12-1-1. After that game, the Kings were 14 points ahead of the Ducks in the division, but held a 2-point lead entering Tuesday’s play. Both teams recently returned from their longest trips of the season. Los Angeles was 3-3-1 on the road, playing three games without goalie Jonathan Quick, while Anaheim was 5-1-1.

Blue Jackets at Rangers, Monday, 7 p.m.

John Tortorella returns to Madison Square Garden. That is all.

N.H.L. General Managers vs. Trade Deadline

The N.H.L. trade deadline is at 3 p.m. Monday, so teams have only a few more days to decide whether to be buyers or sellers. The Maple Leafs are busy shedding salary. We know that Steven Stamkos, who is in the final year of his contract, will not be traded by the Lightning, but what about Carolina’s Eric Staal? Which contending team will be the winning bidder for Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd?

In Case You Missed It

“Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future,” a documentary about the history of black hockey players, will be shown on the NHL Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m. The movie, directed by Damon Kwame Mason, has been making the rounds at film festivals and special screenings since October. It tells the story of pioneers like Willie O’Ree, who became the first black player in the N.H.L. in 1958, but also chronicles the journey of young black players like Jaden Lindo, who was filmed as he pursued the 2014 N.H.L. draft.

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