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NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Red Wings try to rebound on Rivalry Night

Rick Nash, Gustav Nyquist

New York Rangers’ Rick Nash (61) defends Detroit Red Wings’ Gustav Nyquist (14), of Sweden, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 9, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the New York Rangers host the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

It may be an odd thing to think about, but at this pace, the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings may end up jockeying for one of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spots.

Tough times for both teams

As of this moment, the Red Wings (6-3-3, 15 points) would make the postseason while the Rangers (5-4-2, 12 points) would be on the outside looking in. Considering the fact that both squads are on two-game losing streaks and have generally been stumbling as often as they’ve been striding in 2014-15, their three-game season series could end up having a lot of meaning.

Despite being lower in the standings, the Rangers may be a little bit happier with their more recent play than Detroit. While leaving two points on the table stings, both of their losses came via shootouts. Meanwhile, the Red Wings only managed one shootout point in losses to Ottawa and Buffalo.

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One interesting factor may be fatigue.

Normally, the rest advantage would be in New York’s corner. The Red Wings played last night and will visit the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

It might be more of a draw when you consider context, however. New York’s defensive depth has been besieged by injuries, forcing New York to press players into uncomfortable situations and consider less-than-ideal options. Maybe the extra day between games makes enough of a difference for the Rangers to get the early jump or wear the Red Wings out over time, yet it’s reasonable to argue that these teams are basically on even footing.

Both squads are quite familiar with injuries at this point, yet each might be approaching better health:

Plenty of star power

Even with Derek Stepan out and Mats Zuccarello doubtful, both teams bring plenty of talent to the table. Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis have enjoyed strong starts to the season while Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are looking relatively healthy (which means they’re off to hot starts, too).

Wednesday’s Rivalry Night matchup presents the first meeting between the two “Original Six” franchises this season. Could one of these teams start to turn things around this evening?


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Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins