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Morning Skate: Rangers at Red Wings

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New York Rangers v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

We’ve got a Sunday night showdown at the Joe on NBCSN, don’t forget to set your clocks forward or you might miss some thrilling pre-game commentary from whatever panel of “experts” they decide to inflict on us.

The Red Wings ended their losing streak with a victory over Chicago on Friday, and a win against the Rangers today would help prove that wasn’t just a fluke. If nothing else, it’s nice that we can humble some teams who think we’ll be an easy victory – which we have been too often. With only a month left in the season, there is an opportunity to end this dumpster fire of a season on a high note and bring the Joe a few last victories, and any game we win on NBCSN is extra sweet.

Goaltending Match-up

Petr Mrazek will be in net tonight, and the threat of Jimmy Howard usurping him usually seems to bring out the best in Mrazek, so I look for him to give us a great performance. Having a solid goalie tandem again takes some pressure off the defense going down the stretch, which is good as our defense has proven it can’t handle much more pressure than choosing what kind of dish soap to buy.

For the Rangers, we’ll probably see Antti Raanta in net, as Henrik Lundqvist is out for the next 2-3 weeks. Raanta’s backup is Magnus Hellberg, but I wouldn’t expect to see him starting for the Rangers until the second game of a back-to-back. Raanta’s been solid for the Rangers this year, and as the burden of the Rangers playoff dreams is being put on his shoulders he’ll be looking to prove he can take them the distance, so we have our work cut out for us.

Old Friend Alert

This will be our first meeting with Brendan Smith as an opponent, who seems to be fitting in well with the Rangers. He’s been spending time partnered with Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, who has struggled to find the right fit for a defensive partner, so unfortunately for us Smith seems to have smoothed a lot of turbulence that has plagued the Rangers D-corps this season.

Manthamania?

Hopefully by now we’ve heard that Mantha will be back in the lineup, maybe with Athanasiou and Larkin to re-unite the kid line and boot Sheahan down to the 4th line again. I understand the rationale behind benching Mantha, but anything more than one game I think is unwarranted. I would have just sat Mantha down in a room with Zetterberg and had Zetterberg look disappointed at him, maybe heave a couple sighs and shake his head, five minutes of that and Mantha would never even think about dogging it again.

Closing Thoughts

The Rangers are looking to amp up their intensity in hopes of setting up for a deep playoff run, and while Blashill may act like the playoffs are still in reach for us, at this point the Wings are pretty much playing for pride. This is the end of an era for the Red Wings, and putting together a run certainly wouldn’t salvage our season, but it would give the Joe the sendoff it deserves. I’d rather this game not end with another depressing Zetterberg interview, so let’s grab these two points and send the Rangers packing in style.

Also, note that the Rangers have a player named Nicklas Jensen. So that could be fun.

Let’s Go Red Wings!

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Game Day Prediction Contest

Would you like to predict the outcome of the game and potentially become internet famous? Well you're in luck, because here's your opportunity. Here's how it works.

Make your game predictions on the winning team, final score, and who the Wings player of the game will be. Enter the required information into the form below using the formats indicated in the questions. If you don't use those formats, your answers will be disregarded. All submissions are timestamped and will be accepted only until the official game start time. All other submissions after that will be disregarded. Only one submission per person, please. POTG will be determined by the collective of WiiM writers.

Each correct winning team prediction is worth 1 point. Each correct player of the game prediction is worth 2 points. Each correct final score prediction is worth 5 points. If you get all three correct you'll receive 15 points.