Rangers Begin Life Without Kreider in Detroit

The Rangers are in Detroit to take on the Red Wings in the second of three meetings on the season for these two original-six franchises.

The Blueshirts prevailed 2-1 behind Mats Zuccarello’s OT winner and Henrik Lundqvist’s 40 saves when the teams last met at The Garden in November. Which stands to reason I suppose, when you acknowledge that nine of the last 17 contests between the Rangers and Red Wings have been decided in overtime.

Tonight’s game for the Rangers marks the first and only regular season visit to the new Little Caesar’s Arena. The venue anchors a $2.1 billion sports and entertainment district in downtown Detroit. The Ilitch family, of Little Caesars Pizza fame, deserves a tremendous amount of credit for their leadership role in driving this vision to reality. It is a spectacular development and will play a crucial role in the continued rebirth of one of America’s great and important cities.

[Watch Rangers-Red Wings Tonight on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

Henrik Lundqvist will assume the starter’s role in net once again after watching his backup Ondjei Pavelec beat Washington in a shootout, 1-0, in the teams’ last outing. The King will be seeking his 423rd career win, which would tie him with Tony Esposito for eighth on the league’s all-time wins list.

Against the Caps, Pavelec was solid once again, getting the all-important two points for his club. He looks to be increasingly more comfortable in goal, minimalizing movement and controlling the puck with a veteran presence. A+ goaltending during the regular season may very well be the determining factor when it comes to postseason participation. Lundqvist and Pavelec have been providing that A+ netminding.

The Rangers will play without Chris Kreider, who will be sidelined indefinitely due to a blot clot issue. Complaining of a lack of feeling in his right hand after the first period against the Caps, head medical trainer Jim Ramsey quickly shut down the big winger and here we are.

The Rangers move forward without a player who many suspect could be playing better. I would be careful concluding such. He is a dominant force who creates space and intimidates the opposition with his size and speed. Throw in about 25 goals a year and you have a very, very good NHL player. Understanding and recognizing a player for who he is and what he brings, as opposed to what he could be is important from a perspective point of view. Chris Kreider is a shining example of such. He will be missed. Count on it.

[Carpineillo: Replacing Kreider Won’t Be Easy For Rangers]

3 KEYS TO RANGERS-RED WINGS

1. D-Zone

The Rangers are coming off a solid win that was largely predicated on an all-hands-on-deck presence in their own end of the ice. The Wings will come after the Blueshirts with a little more speed than Washington, so an equally dedicated commitment to defending will be important tonight.

[4 Facts to Know for Rangers-Red Wings]

2. Get After the Red Wing Defense

The two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach, Fred Shero was once quoted as saying it was important to, “take the shortest route to the puck, and be angry when you get there.” An attitude to be adopted against a Red Wing defense corps that is not overly mobile or overly physical.

3. 5v5

If numbers mean anything the goals for/goals against differential sure favor the Rangers. At even strength, the Blueshirts are +6 while the Red Wings are
-16. Most of the game is played 5-on-5 and going in, the Rangers have a decided advantage.

[Watch Rangers-Red Wings Tonight on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]