How do you overcome a losing streak? By facing the best team of the last 15 years, of course! The New York Rangers will look to pick up two points for the first time in five games tonight as they face the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena at 7:30 ET. Though the Red Wings are having yet another fantastic season, sitting at the top of their division and 5th overall in the NHL, they too have struggled in recent games, getting shut out in both of their last two games. Along with continuing a losing streak, both teams also hope to revive their slumping powerplays. The Rangers have only scored once in their last 35 PP attempts on the road, while Detroit is 2 for 28 overall in their last name games. Continue reading to see the game notes:
Pavel Datsyuk- The Red Wings could receive a huge boost offensively tonight, as they are expecting All-Star center Pavel Datsyuk to play for the first time since December 22nd against the Vancouver Canucks. Datsyuk has 12 goals and 39 points on the season in the 33 games he has played. Along with potentially igniting a hybernating Detroit offense, the 3 time Selke winner certainly won’t make scoring any easier for the Rangers.
Jimmy Howard- Howard is expected to get the start for Detroit tonight. After a great rookie season last year that put him on the first line All-Rookie Team., Howard has experienced the dreaded sophomore slump, posting a mediocre 2.85 goals against average and .904 save percentage. Howard has particularly slumped recently, with a goals against average around 3.50 and a save percentage under .900 in his last 10 starts. The good news for him is that he got the win in his first and only start against the Rangers, letting in only 1 goal in his appearance last season.
Martin Biron- In the other net will be Biron, who is receiving his second consecutive start. Biron was phenomenal against the Canadiens on Thursday but the lack of offense led to his 5th loss of the season. Still, Biron has been nothing short of amazing in his road starts this season, holding a 4-2-0 record with a 1.84 goals against average and .933 save percentage. In 4 appearances against the Red Wings in his career, Biron has a miserable 3.25 goals against average, but that is slightly misleading as his .908 save percentage shows a lot more stability.
Michael Del Zotto- John Tortorella confirmed that Del Zotto will be in the lineup tonight, leading me to believe that Eminger will once again be the healthy scratch. I doubt Tortorella is sticking with him as a reward for his (lack of) production, though. It seems to me that Tortorella is simply going to keep going with him until something starts clicking on the powerplay or until it’s blatantly obvious that it isn’t going to work. Del Zotto himself realizes that he needs to start doing some things differently. “I’ve just got to put some onus on myself to take more control on the power play. We need somebody step up and make one big play (Via Andrew Gross).” While it’s good to know he recognizes there’s an issue, all of the words in the world mean nothing until he actually starts physically changing what he’s doing on the ice. It’s no secret that the Rangers are in the market for a puck moving defenseman. Del Zotto is fighting for his spot on the roster for the rest of the season right now, and he does not have much time to earn Tortorella’s trust again. He needs to start turning things around tonight, both for the Rangers’ sake and for his sake.
Todd Bertuzzi- Bertuzzi is doing alright but not great in his second stint with the Red Wings. He only has 8 goals on the season so far, but Bertuzzi has had some success against the Rangers over his career. Bertuzzi has 10 goals in 22 games over his career against the Rangers, including a hat trick at Madison Square Garden with the Canucks in 2002.
The Rangers have lost 13 of their last 15 games against the Red Wings, and 9 of their last 10 games in Detroit. Their last win in Detroit was January 30th, 1999, where Mike Richter had 38 saves on 40 shots and John McLean, Petr Nedved, and Niklas Sundstrom got the goals for the Rangers. I’d say they’re long overdue for a win in Detroit. As usual, the Rangers are going to live and die by their goaltending tonight, but no matter how well Biron plays they aren’t going to win unless they find ways to put the puck in the net.