With ice-cold temperatures expected for the upcoming Winter Classic, the New York Rangers have been heating up by collecting at least a point in five of their last six games (4-1-1) heading into Friday’s tilt against the host Detroit Red Wings. The Rangers have had their way with the Red Wings, against whom they have a 10-2-2 mark in the last 14 encounters.
Mats Zuccarello scored in overtime of a 2-1 triumph versus Detroit on Nov. 24, giving him five points (one goal, four assists) in his last five games against the Red Wings. The 30-year-old Norwegian also joined Mika Zibanejad by converting in the shootout in a 1-0 win over Washington on Wednesday, although the latter has been held off the scoresheet in all four contests since returning from a concussion. Detroit has larger issues at hand, namely its sputtering offense that has mustered five goals during its three-game losing skid and a 3-8-5 mark in its last 16 contests overall. “We can’t feel bad for ourselves. We can’t dwell too long or else you are really going to find yourself out,” Justin Abdeldaker said after netting his team’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to New Jersey on Wednesday.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG, FSN Detroit
ABOUT THE RANGERS (20-13-4): Forward Chris Kreider is sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his right arm, the team announced Thursday. “The only thing that I know is, just before the first period he felt some swelling in his arm,” coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Daily News on Thursday. “Docs checked him out, didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Then in between the first and second, it got to a point where this was out of the ordinary.” Henrik Lundqvist’s play versus Detroit could also be categorized as “out of the ordinary,” considering the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner has posted a 7-1-1 mark with a 1.09 goals-against average and .963 save percentage in his last nine meetings.
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (13-16-7): Tyler Bertuzzi was a bit incredulous when learning that he would be paired with captain Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist on the team’s top line. “If that’s the case, obviously it’s an honor playing with Zetterberg and then Gus is always on his line for a reason,” the 22-year-old Bertuzzi said. “They have good chemistry and hopefully I can bring energy to the line.” Zetterberg assisted on Tomas Tatar’s power-play goal in the first meeting with New York, but the latter has registered a minus-4 while being kept off the scoresheet in each of his last three games.
1. Nine of the last 10 games between the Original Six rivals have been decided by one goal.
2. Detroit has gone 0-for-7 on the power play after a 5-for-11 stretch in its previous four contests.
3. With his next victory, Vigneault (634) will snap a tie with Darryl Sutter for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time coaches wins list.
PREDICTION: Rangers 4, Red Wings 2