The Red Wings had two ugly performances on the road to start the season, but a return to Joe Louis Arena for their final home opener at the old barn was exactly what the team needed. Detroit ended up beating up on the Senators 5-1, thanks to a Mike Green hat trick and another two goals from Darren Helm.
Tonight, the Red Wings are back out on the road as they travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
DET/NYR tonight, last 6GP between teams decided by 1G and 10 of the last 11 also 1G games
— Kevin Gibson (@TSNResearch) October 19, 2016
The Red Wings and Rangers have played each other extremely tight over the last few years, so there is no reason to expect anything less tonight. New York has enjoyed a nice start to the season, going 2-1-0 while averaging 4.67 goals for per game, but also 3.33 goals against.
Let’s take a look at tonight’s projected lineups and goaltenders.
THE RED WINGS
After a huge win against Ottawa on Monday, it looks like Jeff Blashill has finally settled on his line combinations, at least for another game. In Tuesday’s practice the Red Wings ran the same lines that they used vs. the Senators, minus Justin Abdelkader, who took a maintenance day but is expected to play tonight.
On Monday, it wasn’t surprising to see the third line continue to make an impact. They’ve been the best line so far this year and chalked up another two goals vs. the Senators. The best line was definitely Tomas Tatar-Dylan Larkin-Henrik Zetterberg, who had an abundance of chances and if it weren’t for some bad luck, Tatar probably would have had a hat-trick of his own.
As I mentioned, Green had a hat-trick, but he and Danny DeKeyser’s CorsiFor% was 35% and 35.71% respectively. That will need to improve tonight. Moving Alexey Marchenko into more sheltered minutes seemed to help the young Russian defenseman, so expect that to continue tonight.
This isn’t a perfect team, but with the players that are currently on the roster, this might be the best lineup that Blashill can churn out.
Up front, it looks like rookie Pavel Buchnevich will miss a second straight game, but depth is not an issue for the Rangers, who will simply have Rick Nash move up to the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Zibanejad was acquired from the Ottawa Senators this summer and he has been excellent in his first three games in blue. Zibanejad and Kreider have found a lot of early chemistry and success, combining for four goals and six assists (10 points) so far.
Behind that dangerous trio is another familiar duo in Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello, who have rookie Jimmy Vesey on their wing—the rookie was highly sought after by nearly every NHL team this summer. Zuccarello and Stepan have also gotten off to a nice start, combining for two goals and four assists. Their bottom—6 has chipped in as well—J.T Miller has two points (1G / 1A), Kevin Hayes and Brandon Pirri do as well (1G / 1A each).
Looking like Kevin Klein makes season debut this evening..practiced yesterday, took part in optional this morning..likely Dylan out
— Jim Cerny (@JimCerny) October 19, 2016
On the blueline, the Rangers will likely be without Dan Girardi for a second straight game, but it looks like the will get Kevin Klein back for his season debut. The 31-year-old blueliner had one goal and one assist in three games vs. Detroit last year.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
I mentioned in Monday’s pregame that Petr Mrazek will start Monday and Jimmy Howard could make his season debut tonight vs. the Rangers. Howard has had success against the Rangers recently, but Petr Mrazek practiced in the “starter’s crease” on Tuesday, which suggests that he could make his fourth consecutive start. Mrazek was excellent again on Monday, stopping 31 of 32 shots for his first win of the year. Mrazek gives the Red Wings their best chance to win and with a back-to-back coming up on Friday and Saturday, expect Mrazek to go tonight and for him and Howie to split that back-to-back set.
As for the Rangers’ net, it will be Henrik Lundqvist. Their backup Antti Raanta started on Saturday, so Lundqvist will start vs. the Red Wings. Lundqvist has gone 1-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .870 SV% in his first two starts this season. Those are obviously not great numbers, but he was great vs. Detroit last year, going 1-0-1 with a 1.44 GAA and .954 SV%. He is still one of the best goalies in the NHL and the Red Wings will need to generate a lot of traffic in front of him if they’re going to crack him with any regularity.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcast nationally as a part of NBC’s Rivalry Night. You can catch it on NBCSN or listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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