Mar 9, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
NBC continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign today when the New York Rangers host the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.
If the Rangers and Red Wings have one thing in common, it’s that they both need these two points. If the season ended today, Detroit would advance to the playoffs with the second Wild Card spot while the Rangers would be the third seed in the Metropolitan Division, but they are only holding onto those spots by the smallest of margins
In terms of points, the Red Wings are tied with Columbus, but they have played in one less game. Detroit trials Columbus in the ROW tiebreaker, so a regulation loss today would cause the Red Wings to lose their grip on the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Rangers aren’t much better off with their one-point cushion.
At least New York isn’t dealing with any major injuries. That’s a foreign concept to the Red Wings this season.
Right now, they’re trying to get by without some of their key players, including forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. They probably would be sinking fast at this point if it wasn’t for Johan Franzen, who has stepped up with six goals and 11 points in five contests since the Olympics. His linemate Gustav Nyquist has chipped in with two goals and eight points in six contests.
Since Detroit acquired him on Wednesday, David Legwand has rounded out that line.
“Leggy’s a real smart player, plays well defensively, and offensively he can make plays. He’s just a real good player, a good centerman in this league,” Nyquist told the Detroit News.
“And Mule (Franzen) — we all know he can shoot the puck and score some big goals. He’s been on fire, so that’s huge for us.”
They will need that trio to stay strong today as the Rangers have plenty of offensive weapons to use against the otherwise depleted Red Wings. Mats Zuccarello is back from a hand injury and Martin St. Louis recently made his Rangers debut, joining forwards Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash.
That’s quite a bit for goaltender Jimmy Howard to deal with as he tries to bounce back after allowing seven goals in his last two starts.
He shouldn’t have any trouble getting motivated though. Detroit hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1990 and have naturally become accustomed to a certain level of success. So have the Rangers for that matter after advancing to the postseason in seven of their previous eight campaigns.
They both realize that in a race this tight, either team could easily end up missing the playoffs by a single point. A game like this could end up making or breaking them.
- Video: Lundqvist helps lead Rangers back to New York for Game 7 1
- Lightning get taken to ‘school of hard knocks’ in third-period collapse 4
- A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video) 10
- Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save 0
- Bob Clarke really doesn’t care for tanking 34
- Hitchcock re-signs for one more year in St. Louis 9
- Ducks win crazy Game 5, push ‘Hawks to edge of elimination 32
- WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Ducks, Game 5 of Western Conference Final 3
- In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’ 4
- Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract 38
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (174)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)