New York Rangers (39-17-6) at Detroit Red Wings (35-15-11)
|Date & Time||Wednesday March 4, 2015, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Detroit Red Wings -130 / New York Rangers +118 --- Over/Under: 5.5
Despite the absence of Henrik Lundqvist from their lineup the New York Rangers just keep winning hockey games. While backup goaltender Cam Talbot has been a bit up and down, the team in front of him has played well enough to give them opportunities to win. The consistency the Rangers have shown is allowing Lundqvist to make a full recover, with little doubt of their playoff fate and only who their opponent will be to worry about. Monday night against Nashville it was Talbot improving his record to 13-6-3 on the season with a relatively easy win over the Predators. New York came out looking like a much different team than the one we saw on Saturday night in Philadelphia against the Flyers. With the trade deadline no longer looming over their heads they looked energized and it reflected in their play on the ice. The Rangers got off to a strong start and took a 1-0 lead on Marc Staal’s fifth goal of the season. In the second period it was Chris Kreider deflecting home a beautiful pass from Mats Zuccarello to make it a 2-0 game before the Predators finally got one back late in the period. That would be the only blemish on Talbot’s record this night, and in the third period Dominic Moore got his sixth of the season before Rick Nash put his 38th of the year into an empty net in the 4-1 win. Zuccarello looked like his old self in this one fresh off signing his new four year contract. Keith Yandle, acquired on Sunday from the Arizona Coyotes, played well enough in his Rangers debut. Yandle’s addition gives the Rangers arguably the best group of defenseman in the league. With Lundqvist’s return looming the Rangers might be the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.
New York will be traveling to Detroit to take on a Red Wings team that has been up and down of late, but are feeling good about themselves after a 4-1-1 road trip through the Western Conference. Detroit took the first two games of their trip in Chicago and Dallas, and then suffered back-to-back hard fought losses against the Ducks in a shootout and the Kings in a one goal game. The Red Wings bounced back with a great come from behind win in San Jose and they followed that up with one of their best victories of the year in Nashville on Saturday. Brendan Smith’s fourth goal of the season gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the opening period and just 2:03 into the second Drew Miller made it a took goal advantage for the visitor’s. Nashville would storm back with three consecutive goals before the end of the period to take the lead, but the Red Wings had an answer in the third. Alexey Marchenko got his first of the season to tie the game at 3-3 and Tomas Tatar’s 25th of the season came on the power play and proved to be the game winner. Jonas Gustavsson made 37 saves and picked up his third victory of the season. Now the Red Wings will get a big challenge against New York as they look to position themselves for home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Detroit currently trails Tampa Bay by one point in the Atlantic Division standings, but the Red Wings have three games in hand.
These two teams play a very similar style and there should be a lot of skating and passing as both teams try to control possession. There won’t be much physicality but if you’re a fan of skill this will be a fun one to watch. With teams this even it’s hard not to take the club with the better defense that’s getting value as an underdog.