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Despite home mark, Rangers pose threat

Red Wings trail Blueshirts by one point in the Eastern Conference standings

Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 2:51 PM ET / News
By Andrea Nelson  - Editorial Assistant | DetroitRedWings.com
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Despite home mark, Rangers pose threat
New York native Jimmy Howard knows how dangers the Rangers can be, despite their poor home record. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

Playing at Madison Square Garden is a dream many professional athletes have, and it might be even more special for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, a Syracuse, New York native who is preparing to play against his favorite childhood team Thursday night.

“Growing up being from Upstate New York, having the Rangers be my favorite team growing up, it’s always special when you get to go to play at MSG,” Howard said. “I think it’s one of the best places to play in the NHL.”

Although defenseman Niklas Kronwall might argue that Madison Square Garden isn’t the best venue to play at, he still understands how special it is to have an opportunity to do so.

"I wish the ice was a little better,” Kronwall said. “They do have 500 events a year or whatever. It's hard to keep the ice, obviously, at the best conditions but they do as good of a job as they can. Maybe now, who knows? They've kind of rebuilt it a little bit and renovated it. Maybe it's better now.

"It's very special. It's a very special place, no doubt about it."

The Rangers host the Red Wings tonight in their second of three meetings this season, and the first of two at Madison Square Garden. New York defeated Detroit 3-2 in overtime at The Joe in October and boasts a 3-1-1 record in the last five games.

"It seems like they've been playing some hockey here the last few weeks,” Kronwall said. “They're back in the game. They had a little sluggish start, if I'm not mistaken. I think they've been really coming around. It seems like they've been finding their game a little bit more here as of late."

With an overall record of 24-21-3, the Rangers rank fourth in the Metropolitan Division standings and eighth in the Eastern Conference. Although they don’t have an outstanding home record (10-11-3), Howard knows how dangerous Detroit’s Original Six foe can be.

“The defensemen are jumping in the play constantly,” Howard said. “They’re playing a lot more open style of hockey compared to what they have in the past when they were a lot more defensive-minded. I’m not saying they’re not now but it seems like the defensemen are jumping up more in the play from watching them on TV. (Henrik) Lundqvist seems to be playing a lot better as of late. He’s the one that drives the bus for that team. We’re going to have to find a way to make his life difficult.”

Team Sweden’s 2014 Olympic goaltender is 3-1-0 in the last four games he’s appeared in and an important contributor to New York’s penalty kill, which is ninth-best in the NHL. Detroit’s ability to manage the game will be key against the Rangers and their stifling penalty kill.

“I just think your ability to get it back is so critical to having a successful power play,” coach Mike Babcock said. “If you want to have a scoring chance and have success you have to win face-offs, you’ve got to be in the offensive zone, you got to get the puck back. You have to be shooting and we can’t be passing it around the outside. You’ve got to get it in the inside.”

While the Rangers have scored a power-play goal in five of their last six games, the Red Wings have struggled to capitalize on special team opportunities in 2014. The team’s power play hasn’t netted a goal since Dec. 30 in Nashville and is 0-21 in the past five games.

"No doubt, that's obviously one of the things that we have to be really good at and it's something that hasn't been clicking as well as we would have liked,” Kronwall said. “It's something we've been working on the last few days. And of course, just generating more offense. In saying that, we can't give up anything on defense as well. Just try to generate more second and third chances."

Generating more scoring opportunities is one of the main things Babcock is looking for against the Rangers.

“I’d like to see us get it on the inside,” Babcock said. “I like to see us shoot the puck and actually want to be a shooter. I want to see us get some second chances.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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