The Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers are
currently separated by a single point in the standings and are both in
contention for the last few Eastern Conference playoff spots. At this point in
the season, you’re playing teams in your conference and you know what to
expect. The problem for this New York Rangers team is that they won’t know WHO
to expect. Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen will not be suiting
up opposite the Blueshirts in tonight’s contest.
Veteran players like Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi
and Jimmy Howard are going to be sharing the ice with young players like Tomas
Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. The Rangers were able to squeak out an
overtime victory in October, but this game is going to play out differently if
Detroits young players get out on the ice. Most of their young guns were part
of the Calder Cup Grand Rapids Griffins,
the Red Wings’ AHL Affiliate, and the Rangers will still have their hands full
even with the absence of the team’s veterans.
The Rangers’ top line of Kreider, Stepan and Nash
should look to put the offensive pressure on early and let the MSG faithful try
to overwhelm the young players, most seeing MSG for the first time as a player.
I’d also look for McDonagh and Girardi to create some opportunities to stretch
the ice and catch Detroit over-pursuing in the offensive end by using the speed
of both Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello to make them pay. Detroit hasn’t been
a juggernaut in the offensive zone, and against this Detroit team 2 goals might
be enough to win as long as they play defensively intelligent hockey plays and
avoid turnovers in their own end.
Ranger faithful attending the game tonight, please let
the young players know that they’re playing in the Garden by making it feel
*Photo credit goes to thedetroithustle.com