The Red Wings are coming off of a huge win against the Jets on Thursday, scoring three unanswered goals to steal it from Winnipeg. It was a great character win for a Red Wings team that entered Thursday on a three-game losing streak. While Thursday’s win was huge, the Red Wings didn’t get any help last night. The Penguins beat the Blue Jackets and the Flyers soared past the Lightning. The end result? The Red Wings come in clinging to the second Wild Card spot in the East with a tough matchup ahead of them this afternoon. A bit of positive news, is that the Flyers are on a back-to-back, so hopefully that hinders them tonight in Florida.
Today is the second of three meetings between the Red Wings and Rangers. The first was a few weeks ago, when Jimmy Howard stood on his head but ended up losing 1-0 in overtime. The Rangers are a deep team that will get a few key pieces back today. They come in having won five of their last seven games, but they have struggled in Joe Louis Arena over the years—New York is 1-6-0-2 in Detroit in their last nine visits to the Joe. Let’s break this one down!
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings had an optional skate and obviously won’t skate before the afternoon start. Andreas Athanasiou started Thursday’s game with Pavel Datsyuk, but didn’t finish there, so expect the lines to look a little different to start today’s game. Look for someone from that third line to move up if head coach Jeff Blashill decides to shake things up a bit. Their fourth line of Darren Helm-Luke Glendening-Brad Richards was outstanding on Thursday, so expect that unit to remain intact. The blueline had it’s moments vs. the Jets, so I wouldn’t expect Alexey Marchenko to get back in today.
I’ve constantly stated the the Red Wings need more from Nyquist and Tomas Tatar and they’ve finally started to produce again. Tatar has two goals and four assists (six points) in his last six games, while Nyquist has picked up two goals and three assists over that same span. It was also nice to see Dylan Larkin get back on the scoresheet after a seven-game goalless streak. Hopefully that reignites his offence for the stretch run.
The Rangers lineup is in flux for this game. Rick Nash and Marc Staal are listed as a game-time decisions and Derick Brassard is listed as doubtful. Nash has been out with a knee injury since January 22nd, but has skated in recent days and it looks like he’ll be in. Steal has missed the last two games with a back injury and he seems almost guaranteed to play. On the other hand, the doubtful tag strongly suggests that they’ll be without Brassard, which might be a blessing in disguise, because Eric Staal will probably play top-6 minutes for the first time since being acquired from Carolina. Derek Stepan comes in as the Rangers’ hottest player, having picked up six points (2G / 4A) in his last six games.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Blashill did not name his starter on Friday, but expect to see Petr Mrazek back in goal after a strong game vs. Winnipeg. Mrazek snapped a brief personal two-game losing streak by stopping 23 of 25 (.920 SV%) in the 3-2 win. Mrazek has gone 6-1-1 with a 2.08 GAA, .917 SV% and one shutout in his last eight starts at Joe Louis Arena.
In addition to likely getting Nash and Staal back in the lineup, the Rangers will also get all-world netminder Henrik Lundqvist back between the pipes. Lundqvist has missed the last three games with a neck injury, but he has already been confirmed to start this afternoon. Lundqvist stopped all 22 shots that he faced to shut the Red Wings out in the first meeting, but he has struggled on the road—going 12-13-2 with a 2.49 GAA and .924 SV% in 27 starts away from Madison Square Garden.
WORDS FROM THE ENEMY
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 11, 2016
He’s not that beautiful…
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 2:00 p.m ET at Joe Louis Arena. You can watch it on Fox Sports Detroit or NHL Network. If you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
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