[singlepic id=63 w=320 h=240 float=]
Matchup: New York Rangers vs Detroit Red Wings
Venue: Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI
Time: 7pm Eastern
Broadcast: Detroit – FSD, New York – MSG, National – NHLN-US
I don’t think anything needs to be said about the Red Wings’ (6-4-1, 13 pts, 3rd Atlantic Division) effort in Wednesday night’s matchup against the Ottawa Senators. Their skating was sluggish, their zone entry was sloppy, the passes weren’t crisp, and any gained momentum ended up getting shot down by an opposing goal. If it weren’t for Todd Bertuzzi’s 3rd goal of the season, the Wings easily would have been shutout. That’s all I’m going to say about the game, because it still hurts thinking about it. Their effort tonight will have to be a much more concerted one.
They’ll be taking on a New York Rangers team (2-6-0, 4 pts, 7th Metropolitan Division) that has struggle out of the gate thus far, and who has a different look behind the bench. Last season, roughly a week after being knocked out of the playoffs in 5 games by the Bruins, the Rangers’ brass announced that John Tortorella was no longer the head coach of the team. Around the same time, the Canucks announced that Alain Vigneault was no longer their head coach, and he would ultimately end up taking Tortorella’s place behind the bench in New York. Since then the team has lacked offense, their power play woes carried over from last season, and the defense has been abysmal, (every player on the team is a negative in the +\- category, apart from three who are 0’s).
Facing a team lacking so much offense and with such porous defense may be just the thing the Red Wings need to spark their offense back to life, an offense that has scored just 3 total goals in their last 3 games, including being shutout by the San Jose Sharks. And that should be further put at ease by the fact that Henrik Lundqvist will be a scratch in tonight’s game, still battling off an undisclosed injury. So in his place, the Rangers will be putting Cam Talbot in net against the Red Wings. This is Talbot’s first year with the Rangers, and he’s played in just one game so far this season, his NHL debut and a loss to the Flyers. His stats from that game put him at a .926 SP and 2.03 GAA. The Red Wings will see if they can manage to put a few past him tonight as well.
It’s expected that the Red Wings will counter with Jimmy Howard, after he was chased out of the net by the Senators with 3 goals in just 14:14 of play in the game. He’s got a 3-4-1 record, and boasts a .914 SP and 2.60 GAA average. The numbers really don’t do him justice though; when he’s got a team playing adequate defense in front of him, he comes up with the clutch saves when you need him to. He’s got great movement down low, and a catching glove that comes up huge more times than not. If the Wings can manage to keep players from the slot, and, you know, NOT screen their own goalie tonight, they should have no problems at all with their goaltending.
It’s a pivotal moment in the early season for the Red Wings. It’s either win and overtake 2nd place in the division again, or lose and extend their streak to a new season high 4-games. We’ll see you tonight, Nation!