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New York Rangers Game Thread: 3/4, Rangers at Red Wings

Original six hockey between two of the Eastern Conference's best this season.

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Game Sixty-Three, the New York Rangers at the Detroit Red Wings
Record: 39-17-6
Opponent: 35-15-11
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The Rangers begin a brutal five game road trip where they they play against some of the league's best teams tonight in Detroit against Datsyuk and the Red Wings. The Rangers are coming off of one of their most complete and impressive performances of the season headed into tonight's marquee match up. Playing an outstanding sixty minutes against the elite Nashville Predators on Monday night in Keith Yandle's first game as a Ranger was just what the doctor ordered after the Rangers were dropped by the Flyers in regulation at the close of February. The distraction of Zuccarello being on the trading block is the behind the team and the guys in the locker room now know that if they do get to the top of the mountain, these are the brothers they will do this with. I love this group. They can really accomplish something special this season. Anyway, enough fawning over the lineup, let's turn our attention to tonight's game.

The Red Wings are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and are pretty banged up headed into tonight's contest. Johan Franzen hasn't skated since suffering a concussion in early January and Henrik Zetterberg is on the mend after an upper body injury (concussion) although he might be in the lineup tonight for Detroit. The Red Wings will also be without Darren Helm tonight, who is out of the lineup due to an oblique strain. But the Red Wings are hardly flightless (see what I did there?), they play a great team game and have lost just five games in regulation at home this season. Detroit has the 7th best offense and 7th best defense in the league in regards to the goals they score and surrender per 60 minutes. In other words, they are a very good hockey team that is ready to make a big push to the playoffs and make some noise when they get there.

A player to keep an eye on tonight, other than former Devil Marek Zidlicky who was traded to the Red Wings on deadline day, is Tomas Tatar. Once again it looks like the Red Wings have found a way to take their time with a prospect and develop him into something special and Tatar is the latest example of that. Tatar has 46 points in 61 games this season and is behind only Zetterberg and Datsyuk in points scored. It will be interesting to see how the Rangers' celebrated blue line matches up against Detroit's offensive lines tonight.

The New York Rangers' March Schedule

3/2, Predators at Rangers, 7:00 (win.)
3/4, Rangers at Red Wings, 8:00
3/8, Rangers at Blackhawks, 7:30
3/10, Rangers at Islanders, 7:00
3/11 Rangers at Capitals, 8:00
3/14, Rangers at Sabres, 7:00
3/15, Panthers at Rangers, 5:00
3/18, Blackhawks at Rangers, 8:00
3/21, Rangers at Hurricanes, 7:00
3/22, Ducks at Rangers, 7:30
3/24, Kings at Rangers, 7:00
3/26, Rangers at Senators, 7:00
3/28, Rangers at Bruins, 1:00
3/29, Capitals at Rangers, 3:00
3/31, Rangers at Jets, 8:00

Mike's Player to Watch: J.T. Miller

The Rangers showed a lot of faith in players like Miller and Kevin Hayes when they dealt away the assets that landed them Keith Yandle. There is a lot to love about Miller's game but there's no doubt that there is also a lot of room for improvement and the serious need for consistency out of J.T. He's been one of those guys that has a great game one night and then has two or three forgettable games after that. Will Miller, an Ohio native, step it up against the Red Wings tonight? I have a good feeling about it. Turn it on J.T., if we can get you playing with some confidence, consistency, and swagger the third line becomes that much more amazing.

Let's go Rangers. Drop the puck.