Following the all-star break, the Rangers return to play the Detroit Red Wings in a home-and-home series (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
As the trade deadline nears, the Blueshirt players will be hoping to put together a winning streak that can edge them closer to a playoff spot prior to the trade deadline. The Rangers have a chance to start the stretch leading to the trade deadline on the right note by hosting the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings have just 12 wins on the season and rank last in almost every major category. The Rangers will hope that they can take advantage of Detroit and get back-to-back wins against the basement dwellers.
“Our approach is to put ourselves in the best position to win a hockey game tomorrow night, and it really is that simple, and we are that shortsighted,” said head coach David Quinn after Thursday’s practice. “That’s all it comes down to.”
While the Red Wings are having a poor season, the Rangers can’t take them lightly as Detroit do have players that can be difference makers including 23-year-old Dylan Larkin. Larkin is tied for the team lead with 36 points half way through the season with Tyler Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi leads the team in goals with 17 and is on pace to set new career highs.
The Rangers will likely see Jimmy Howard either Friday or Saturday night. Although Howard has just two wins in 23 games this season with a goals against average of 4.12 and a save percentage of .883, Howard tends to play some of his best hockey against the Rangers. Howard holds a 10-4-3 record with a 1.90 goals against average and a .944 save percentage.
Igor Shesterkin will make his fourth career start while Henrik Lundqvist will start Saturday at Detroit. Shesterkin suffered his first career loss prior to the all-star break in a 2-1 defeat to the Blue Jackets.
The Blueshirts will get a big boost as Artemi Panarin will return to the lineup after missing last game against the Islanders and the all-star game. Panarin has 68 points and he leads the Rangers in goals and assists.
Ryan Strome has the flu but is expected to be okay according to Quinn. Strome and Panarin have formed great chemistry on the second line which has led to a career year for Strome who is second in points on the Rangers.
At practice, the Rangers will stick with the same familiar lines on offense and on the power-play. However, Quinn has swapped Brady Skjei and Ryan Lindgren. Lindgren will join Trouba on the top defensive pair while Skjei will join rookie defenseman Adam Fox. Lindgren and Fox were often trusted in key situations and many times considered their most trusted and consistent pairing. Lindgren will get his first chance at seeing top minutes. Should Lindgren prove he can handle it, the Rangers may explore trading one of their defenseman at the trade deadline.