Time: 7:30pm ET
Place: Little Caesars Arena
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket, 1270 AM
After a almost perfectly horrible start to the season, the Red Wings have found some fire and, dare I say, some scoring. Last time out they showed both as well as some resiliency in over coming a two goal deficit that saw a Martin Frk goal overturned on an offside followed by a Vancouver goal upheld after the Red Wings challenged that it too was offiside to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout 3-2. Tonight the Wings will look to build on that fire when the New York Rangers come into Little Ceasars Arena for the first time this season.
New York was in a similar situation to the Red Wings as they came into the season continuing the transition from veteran laden contending team to rebuilding. For the most part it has gone a little better than expected for the Rangers as they enter the contest with the Wings tonight owning a 7-7-1 (15pts) record, just one point out of the second Wild Card spot after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 on Tuesday. Up front, they are buoyed by the trio of Mika Zibanejad (6G/7A/13Pts), Chris Kreider (7/4/11) and Mats Zuccarello (3/7/10). The blue line has a lot less talent than recent Rangers teams but there is still talent there. Marc Staal and Kevin Shattenkirk log a ton of minutes while Brady Skei (1/6/7) and Neal Pionk (2/6/8) carry the load offensively from the back end. Of course they also employ former Red Wing rear guard Brendan Smith, who is second on the team with 27PIM so the Wings will likely look to put the pressure on their former first round pick whenever he is on the ice. One of the main reasons for the Rangers ability to still remain in the playoff hunt despite a reduction of the overall talent depth in its skaters in the continued brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist. Even at age 36 with the mileage he has from carrying the load in New York for 13 seasons coming into the 2018-19 season, Lundqvist is still every bit King Henrik as he has posted a .922 save percentage in 12 games this season so far…three points higher than his career save percentage.
For the Red Wings, it will be another game time decision for both Andreas Athanasiou and Frans Nielsen with signs pointing towards both playing as they both participated in practice yesterday and the Red Wings decided to reassign Christopher Ehn, who was brought up for Tuesday’s game, back to Grand Rapids. If both can go it will be interesting to see how the forward lines shake out.
This will be a very different game in some ways for the Red Wings than the last one. New York is not quite as fast overall as Vancouver and do not look for them to throw 42 shots on net. They are still good at keeping the score low and allowing their all world goaltending to carry them to victories. The Red Wings are going to need to be strong on the puck when they have it and not miss on any opportunities they get at a quality scoring chance because Lundqvist is not going to let them have many.