New York Rangers (+118) at Detroit Red Wings (-130)
Two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference will square off tonight as the New York Rangers (39-17-6, 84 pts) head to the Joe to face the Detroit Red Wings (35-15-11, 81 pts) at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now, posting a 9-1-1 record in their last 11 and scoring nearly four goals per game in that span. Left winger Rick Nash continued his torrid goal scoring pace last game, netting his 38th of the season (albeit into an empty net) in New York’s 4-1 win over league-leading Nashville.
Nash is second in the league in goals, trailing only the piping hot Alex Ovechkin (43).
The Rangers also got a boost from Mats Zuccarello (who just signed a four-year, $18m contract) against the Preds. The diminutive Norwegian set-up the first two goals of the game and left head coach Alain Vigneault wanting to see more of the same down the stretch drive.
“[Mats] was a real good player [tonight],” said Vigneault. “I don’t know if the fact that he just signed his big deal made him do that, but we need him to be on top of his game. Hopefully his mind is clear, and we’re going to see Mats on a regular basis.”
The Rangers are currently one point back of the Islanders for top spot in the Metropolitan Division. But they also have three games in hand on the Isles.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, are third in the Atlantic, six points behind the Canadiens and three back of Tampa. Detroit made a splash at the deadline, acquiring left winger Erik Cole from Dallas in exchange for two prospects (Mattias Janmark and Mattias Backman) and a second-round pick.
“We’re right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference, and if we could add a piece or two, leading up to the deadline, to make us a little deeper, a little better-prepared for a playoff series, at a price that we could live with, we wanted to do it,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said.
Cole, known for both blistering speed and frequent injuries, has 18 goals and 33 points in 55 games with Dallas this season.
Like the Rangers, the Wings are also coming off a win over the Nashville Predators (4-3 on the road on Saturday). Detroit trailed the stingy Predators 3-2 heading into the third, but rookie Alexey Marchenko tied things up with his first career NHL goal; then Tomas Tatar (the team’s leading goal scorer) put the Wings ahead for good on the power play with his 25th of the year.
“We stick together and battle like a team, and we scored goals,” Tatar said to NHL.com after the game. “Twenty minutes in hockey can go so fast and you never know what’s going to happen. When we were down one goal, we said we would stick to the plan and do what we do.”
The Wings and Rangers have split their last ten meetings, but New York has taken three of the last four. The road Rangers are +118 in the moneyline, while the home Red Wings are -130.
(Photo credit: Robert Kowal (Rick Nash) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)