Anytime the home team takes on a Stanley Cup contender from the year before, you’re guaranteed a great matchup; especially as this year’s aggressive Red Wings team welcomes the New York Rangers to The Joe.
But then again, this Red Wings team has made the playoffs for 23 straight seasons, so a game like this will be worth watching. Heck, it may even be worth purchasing tickets instead of watching from your warm and cozy couch. Plus, it’s an age-old matchup of two of the Original Six hockey teams.
The two teams met three times last year, with New York sweeping the Red Wings (two shutouts and one overtime win), so you know the Red Wings, led by Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard are out for blood. The Red Wings lost again to the Rangers in early November (3-4), extending the Rangers win streak to four straight – the longest in the series dating back to the 1983-84 season. (Looking for a recap of the last matchup? Head over to Puck Daddy for their review).
Speaking of home ice advantage, the last two matchups for these teams will take place in Detroit, and this time there is more than pride and bragging rights on the line. This time, perhaps the most important thing on the line for the Red Wings is redemption.
Henrik Lundqvist is a beast in the net, having shutout the Red Wings two of three meetings last season. It’s not a surprise the Red Wings are going back to the drawing board when facing this top-notch defense and focus more on speed.
To win this game, the Red Wings need to shift their focus to the Henrik on the other side of the ice – their Henrik. Captain Henrik Zetterberg, a Swedish native with over 15 years experience in the league, has to help the rest of his team regain confidence in their play against New York. Having seen 11 playoff appearances with the Red Wings, Zetterberg knows what it takes to win, or at least get past New York. Just not recently.
Most fans along with coach Mike Babcock know this Red Wings team is not the same as last year’s. If you’re keeping track, this year’s roster is six player’s different from last seasons, which is a hefty amount. This year’s faster and more youthful team will be quite the change of pace the Rangers have recently become accustomed to seeing from Detroit. The Red Wings have a great amount of young talent – their AHL affiliate won the league in 2013, and they need to use that to their advantage. Of course veterans like Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen will be huge factors in this game.
What are your predictions for this NHL matchup? Do you think the Red Wings can finally snap this ugly losing streak against New York? What’s it going to take to win?