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Rangers start road trip against surging Red Wings; Dan Boyle playing 1000th career game

Bobby Bevilacqua

Derick Brassard overtime winner 11-5

Derick Brassard scored the overtime winner for New York back on November 5th, and will look to help lead the team past the Red Wings again. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (39-17-6) will start a five game road trip tonight against another Original Six team, and one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, when they take on the Detroit Red Wings (35-15-11) for the third and final time this season.

The Red Wings won 3-2 back on December 6th in Detroit, with goals coming from Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash. The Rangers topped the Red Wings in overtime on November 5th, with goals from Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Lee Stempniak, and the overtime winner from Derick Brassard.

Cam Talbot was in net for the loss in Detroit, making 31 saves on 34 shots. He’s coming off of a very strong performance against the Predators, where he picked up his 13th win of the season, improving his record to 9-2-2 as a starter. Talbot will be making his sixth consecutive start.

Detroit was a team marred by injuries last season, but having players like Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard back in the lineup and healthy once again has led to the Red Wings becoming a threat in the East once again.

They also have the NHL’s best power play in the league, converting on an impressive 25% of their opportunities. The Rangers penalty kill was very strong on Monday, and will need to be again tonight.

The last game they played was back on February 28th, where they beat Nashville 4-3 in the Bridgestone Arena. Detroit got a lot of production from their bottom six forwards in that game, and Jonas Gustavsson made 37 saves in the win.

Jimmy Howard hasn’t played since February 26th, so he will be well rested for tonight’s matchup. Howard is 18-8-9 with a 2.23 GAA and a .917 save percentage this season.

Two veterans are leading the way in the Motor City, the captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternate captain Pavel Datsyuk. Zetterberg is enjoying a nice comeback season, where he is second on the team in scoring with 49 (14-35-49) points. Only Datsyuk is ahead of him, tallying 51 points (22-29-51) in just 50 games played.

They also added two players at the trade deadline, picking up defenseman Marek Zidlicky (4-19-23) from the Devils, and left wing Erik Cole (18-15-33) from the Stars. Both are expected to debut with Detroit tonight.

The Rangers will also have a player making his Blueshirt debut. James Sheppard, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in a trade, is expected to slot into the fourth line left wing position alongside Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast. Sheppard has 16 points (5-11-16) this season, playing primarily center with the Sharks. But he is experienced at all three positions, and the 6’1”, 215 pound Sheppard will add some more scoring and solid defensive play the bottom line.

James Sheppard

James Sheppard is likely making his Rangers debut tonight in Detroit, playing on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast. Photo courtesy of James Laprete.

 

Sheppard was reunited with Dan Boyle, who he spent two seasons with in San Jose, and Boyle praised him for his smart play, and his ability to win puck battles and play a strong possession type of game.

On Monday, Keith Yandle made his Rangers debut, with a promising start to his tenure here, driving possession and effectively moving the puck out of his own end. With six strong defenseman, the Rangers were able to spread out playing time amongst them, with Ryan McDonagh leading the way at 22:09 on ice, and Dan Boyle not that far behind at 17:49, showcasing the ability to effectively rotate their d-pairings.

Dan Boyle may have had his best game defensively against the Predators, and he will look to build off of that tonight, when he skates in his 1,000th career NHL game. Boyle has 576 points in his 999 games played, with 15 of them (8-7-15) coming this season. It has not gone according to plan, suffering a broken hand and multiple illnesses, but despite his self-criticism, the Rangers are 31-10-4 when he is in the lineup.

dan boyle 3-2

Dan Boyle played extremely well on Monday, and will be skating in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Mats Zuccarello (5 goals, 9 assists in last 16 games), Derick Brassard (reached 50 points on Monday), and Martin St. Louis (third on team with 44 points), have all been playing well lately, but have not found the back of the net in the past few games, with Brassard’s goal drought at 13 games. I’d expect at least one of the three to snap their drought tonight. My pick is Brassard, as he has played well on nationally televised games, and has scored against Detroit earlier this season. He is my player to watch tonight.

The Rangers only got one power play opportunity against the Predators on Monday, and Yandle spent the entire 2:00 on the ice. Assuming the Rangers get a few tonight. It will be fun to see Yandle do what he does best; quarterbacking the man advantage.

The Rangers and the Red Wings will face off at the Joe Louis Arena at 8:00 PM tonight. The game will be televised on NBCSN.

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

James Sheppard-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal- Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle- Kevin Klein

Cam Talbot

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Posted on March 4, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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