Time: 7:30pm ET
Place: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit MI
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket, 1270 AM
Another lost season rolls on tonight as the struggling Red Wings look to end their eight-game losing streak at home against the New York Rangers. This streak stretches all the way back to the February 15th…the day after the Red Wings defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2…and now has our beloved winged wheelers sitting only four points clear of those same Senators and dead last in the entire NHL. Last time out the Red Wings lost in OT to the Colorado Avalanche that saw Filip Zadina pot his first NHL goal and almost his first game winning goal with a blast from the dot on the power play late in the third period. Tonight’s opponent, the Rangers, are nine points clear of the Red Wings but well off the Wild Card pace and likely fighting for ping pong balls as well.
Offensively New York looks very similar to the Wings. They have two forwards, Mika Zibanejad (27G/36A) and Chris Kreider (26G/22A), providing the lion’s share of the offense with a few others led by Jimmy Vesey (16G/18A) chipping in some secondary offense and several not providing a ton of help. Along the blue line they are a long way from the stout group they had just a couple seasons ago. Kevin Shattenkirk, Tony DeAngelo and Neal Pionk lead the offense from the back end and Marc Staal doing typical Marc Staal things but this is a group that the Red Wings can potentially take advantage of with their speed. Even the always steady presence of Henrik Lundqvist has faltered some this year. His current save percentage is .907, the lowest mark of his entire career and 12 points below his career average.
On the Red Wings front, Dylan Larkin continues to lead the team in everything, the Andreas Athanasiou at center trial continues and in case you missed it before, Filip Zadina scored his first NHL goal. With five games left (including this one) in his nine game initial foray into the NHL, here is hoping he gets four more in those five games so he can tie Mike Green and Justin Abdelkader for (checks stat sheet) 10th on the team in scoring. Wait, seriously…10th on the team in scoring has 5 goals? If you do not count players not currently on the roster (which means Gustav Nyquist and Dennis Cholowski) than that statement is in fact correct. I know we talk about the blue line needing an upgrade, but they could have Nashville’s blue line but if their forwards cannot put up more that 151 goals 66 games through the season (that is 2.29 goals per game for those who like math) it will not matter who is on defense. They will not be contenders again until they find goal scoring, but I digress. Speaking of the blue line, the Red Wings will continue to be without the services of said Mike Green as he continues to battle a virus and is likely out for another week. They did get Trevor Daley back last game so that is…something…I guess. In net it will likely be Jimmy Howard as Bernier played the last game and throughout his career Jimmy has played some of his best hockey against the Rangers, posting a .948 career save percentage in 14 starts against the Blue Shirts.
Over the past handful of seasons, the Rangers on the schedule generally has meant two things for the Red Wings. Very tight checking, close contests that end up being settled in OT. These two rosters are very different from the ones that played in those games. But when you have Jimmy Howard and Henrik Lundqvist in the nets across from each other goals are very likely to be at a premium so do not expect this one to be much different.