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Melrose Minute: Excitement builds at Yankee Stadium

by Barry Melrose

Whether or not you're from New York, whether or not you care about any of the teams involved, I don't see how you cannot get excited about the two 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games being played between the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils over the next few days.

The games are being played in Yankee Stadium, a beautiful building and arguably the most famous stadium in America. The setting for it will be great, but what really sets these two games apart from the rest of the Stadium Series is that the teams playing in Los Angeles and the teams playing in Chicago probably are all going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In New York, all three teams are in the hunt but making the playoffs is no guarantee.

For the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, these games are going to be pivotal in the standings. The race for the wild-card spots is very tight and all three teams playing in the Stadium Series New York games are involved. That's going to add an extra angle of excitement when the Devils and Rangers take the ice Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) as well as when the Rangers and Islanders face off Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

What will also be very interesting to watch for is what the crowd will be like at these games. I've been to several outdoor games now and they've all got their own little twist that makes them special. In Ann Arbor at the Winter Classic it was the first time we had such a massive crowd watching the game. In L.A. it will be the first time we play one of these games in warm weather. In New York, not only will it be the first time we've played outdoors in New York City, but it will be interesting to see what the makeup of the crowd is like with three fan bases clamoring for tickets.

For those who know the New York market, the Rangers probably are the most popular team, but amazingly, even though they play in both games, they aren't going to be the home team for either. As a result it will be interesting to see if Rangers fans can scoop up enough tickets so that they can create a home atmosphere at Yankee Stadium.

The thing that really will make this week in New York great, though, is that all three of these teams are playing well right now. The Islanders have gotten hot, the Rangers probably are playing their best hockey of the season right now and the Devils, who just hung seven goals on the St. Louis Blues this week, are in every game they play as long as it doesn't get to a shootout.

Add it all up and we're set to see some very exciting hockey against an amazing backdrop in the biggest city in America. The NHL and its fans are in for two very special games in New York.

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