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WGD #52: Three things to watch for against the Rangers

Following their bye week, the Red Wings will look to start fresh against the disappointing 23-21-4 Rangers in the first game of their home-and-home series. For Detroit, their squad will be attempting to end their current six-game losing streak. During that span, the Red Wings have allowed at least four goals or more in five of their previous six games.

As for the Rangers, they’ll be looking to further build off their dominating 5-1 victory over the Red Wings that came back on Nov. 6. Since that game, New York has won 17 of their last 35 games while Detroit has lost 23 of their previous 34 contests. In order for the Red Wings to win their season series against the Rangers, they’ll need to win back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 10.

Projected Lines

Detroit Red Wings

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Patrik Nemeth
PATRIK NEMETH
Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK
Trevor Daley
TREVOR DALEY
Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY
Dennis Cholowski
DENNIS CHOLOWSKI
Alex Biega
ALEX BIEGA

For the second straight game, Dennis Cholowski will suit up for the Red Wings. During the All-Star break, the 21-year-old was sent down to Grand Rapids along with forwards Filip Zadina and Givani Smith for a pair of games. During that time, Cholowski produced two assists along with three shots on net.

Similar to Jan. 22, Cholowski will resume his role alongside depth defenseman Alex Biega on Detroit’s third defensive pairing. If productive, it shouldn’t take long before coach Jeff Blashill promotes his impressive young defenseman onto his second defensive pairing.

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New York Rangers 

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Brady Skjei
BRADY SKJEI
Jacob Trouba
JACOB TROUBA
Marc Staal
MARC STAAL
Anthony DeAngelo
ANTHONY DEANGELO
Ryan Lindgren
RYAN LINDGREN
Adam Fox
ADAM FOX

After being sidelined since Jan. 19, Artemi Panarin is expected to return to the Rangers’ lineup for tonight’s game. Despite missing just one game, the 28-year-old should provide a boost to New York’s lineup, as he currently leads his team in goals (26), assists (42) and points (68) this season.

With Panarin likely to regain his spot on the Rangers’ top line, the Red Wings will need to be very cautious whenever that line steps out onto the ice later tonight.

Three Thoughts

1.) Filip Zadina Capping Off an Exceptional January 

After being held out of Grand Rapids’ lineup back on Jan. 26 due to a minor injury, Filip Zadina is expected to return to Detroit’s roster later tonight in Madison Square Garden. During tonight’s game, the exciting young forward will look to conclude his fantastic month of January with another impressive performance.

Over his ten games this month, Zadina leads the Red Wings in goals (5) and shots on net (28). In addition, the 20-year-old has also produced the second-most points (6) on the team during that span as well. With Zadina positioned on Detroit’s top five-on-five line and first power-play unit, the left-hander should be poised for another must-see performance in the city that never sleeps.

2.) Lots and Lots of Scoring Chances 

So far this season, the Rangers have been one of the worst defensive zone faceoff winning teams in the league. Currently, New York has generated the second-worst DZ FOW% (44.0%) and the second-highest shots against rate (34.5/game) among all 31 teams in the league over their 48 games played.

In comparison, Detroit has produced the third-highest OZ FOW% (55.8%) throughout the entire league since Jan. 1. The Red Wings also outshot the Rangers 36-31 during their previous meeting back in November. While Detroit has failed to score more than two goals in four of their last five games, their team should be provided with a ton of scoring chances later tonight.

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3.) Desperate Need For Detroit to Stay Disciplined 

Coming into tonight’s contest, New York’s power-play unit has been “red hot” over their 28 opportunities this month. During that span, the Rangers have created a league-best 35.7% conversion rate on the power play since Jan. 1. New York was also extremely successful with the man advantage back on Nov. 6, as they converted on two of their three power-play opportunities against Detroit.

As for the Red Wings, they’ve averaged the eighth-most penalty minutes per game (8:54) and have produced the eighth-worst success rate (74.3%) with their penalty-killing unit since Jan. 1. Given the Rangers’ success on the power play this month, the Red Wings will need to stay out of the penalty box to have the best chance at coming away with a victory for the first time in six games.