The New York Rangers will host former Blueshirt Brad Richards and the Detriot Red Wings at Madison Square Garden tonight at 7:00PM.
New York Rangers (33-19-6, 72 points, 2nd in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Detriot Red Wings (29-20-10, 68 points, 3rd in NHL Atlantic Division)
Tonight, 7:00 PM on NBCSN
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
By Chris Wengert
Former New York Rangers’ forward “Broadway” Brad Richards will make his second appearance at MSG since his contract was bought out two summers ago.
That move worked out well for Richards, who won his second Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season.
But Richie is sporting the Detroit red now and sure won’t be looking to do the Rangers any favors tonight.
The Detroit Red Wings have lost every road game in the month of February and enter tonight’s tilt having dropped their last three. The Rangers are hoping that the bad luck continues, as tonight marks the end of a tough four game road trip for Detroit.
Both teams are experiencing mediocre success on the power play. The Rangers PP ranks 21st in the NHL with a 17.9% success rate and the Red Wing’s is 19th with a percentage of 18.1.
The Rangers will have a big advantage in goal tonight though, as Henrik Lundqvist (.902 save percentage in last 10 games) will face Jimmy Howard (.871 in last 10) who has not been reliable this season.
The big news from the Rangers the past couple of days was not only that captain Ryan McDonagh didn’t suffer a concussion from Leo Komarov‘s hit, but that forward Daniel Paille was placed on and since cleared waivers.
As a result, Hartford call-up Marek Hrivik was see his first start in the NHL tonight.
Daniel Paille assigned to Hartford.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 21, 2016
Jeff Gorton and company must have witnessed some strong play from Hrivik lately, because he isn’t exactly the first name to comes to mind when you think of an AHL call-up.
Here is the scouting report on Hrivik, courtesy of Thehockeynews.com.
Ranger’s head coach Alain Vigneault has made it clear that he not only wants to improve the penalty kill, but also the fourth line as a whole.
Vigneault not sugarcoating answers to my questions about Dom Moore, while Gorton abandons 2nd failed PK experiment https://t.co/dGuiZ6w9ZM
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) February 21, 2016
Ranger’s Keys To Victory
Find Some Jump
Blame it on whatever you like, the Rangers were very sluggish throughout Thursday’s 4-2 victory against Toronto.
Yes, they played a very emotional game the night before against the Chicago Blackhawks, but this is a no excuse time year. The Rangers need to regain their speed which starts in the neutral zone.
The Rangers were guilty of trying to be too cute with the puck on Thursday, and it cost them their speed. If they can simplify their transition game through the defensive and neutral zones, the Blueshirts should be able to play their game.
Fourth Line Redemption
As mentioned above, both the penalty kill and fourth line have suffered from sub-par performances.
Hopefully the addition of Hrivik will jump start the fourth line. The only concern is that AV has a history of giving his AHL call ups very little playing time.
Hrivik will make mistakes for sure, but he needs to be given an opportunity to correct those mistakes with ice time.
Fans know the importance of a strong fourth line especially in the playoffs, and it’s a good thing that the Ranger’s brass is dealing with the problem now rather than next season.
Marc Staal Needs To Be Better
While Ryan McDonagh was out with a concussion the Rangers rallied and played a strong defensive game. Now that the captain is out again, the Blueshirts will need to step up to the challenge yet again.
Marc Staal is the one defenseman that really needs to improve his coverage, especially in front of Lundqvist. Far too often opponents are left all alone in front of Hank. This is a big reason why the Rangers are giving up so many goals late in games..
While Staal will never be the force that he was five years ago, he needs to be somewhat reliable, similar to Kevin Klein. Klein can always be relied upon to make smart decisions with the puck and life harder for his opponents.
Marc Staal should take a page from Klein’s book.