Spotlight Game: Rangers Return with Original Six Matchup

Rangers and Red Wings at the Garden

After nine days off the New York Rangers return to action on Friday night at the Garden for the first game of a home-and-home series against the Detroit Red Wings.


Friday’s game will mark the 595th meeting between the two Original Six franchises, with Detroit having a clear-edge in the all-time series with wins in 270 of the previous 594 meetings. Despite the longevity of both franchises, this has never been much of a rivalry —aside from the two times that the Red Wings bested the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final (1937, 1950). But that’s all history.

Original Six Rivalry?

The Rangers and Red Wings haven’t shared a division since divisions, as we know them, came into existence in the 1974-75 season when the Rangers were in the Patrick Division and Detroit was in the Norris Division. Whatever fire still burned after that was diminished when the Red Wings moved to the Western Conference (then called the Campbell Conference) in the 1983-84 season.

Of course, Detroit returned to the Rangers’ conference in the 2013-14 season, but they landed in the Atlantic Division — which is not the still terribly-named Metropolitan Division.

This season, the Red Wings and Rangers are both undergoing transformations. However, the Blueshirts are further along in construction than Detroit — despite the fact that they are the younger team. On the blue line alone, the Red Wings have four players who are at least 31 years old who are pending unrestricted free agents.

It’s no secret that Detroit is one of the worst teams in the league this year, but that is likely all part of Steve Yzerman’s plan to rebuild from the ground up. He has his own first — which has a good chance of being a lottery pick — two seconds, and two third round picks in the first three rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft. If Yzerman can find any buyers for some of his veteran players with expiring contracts, he will be able to add some more bricks to the wheelbarrow in his effort to rebuild the franchise that he captained to a dynasty during his playing career.

Last Time Around

The last time the Rangers and Red Wings met, the Blueshirts blew Detroit out of the water in a 5-1 victory on Nov. 6. In that game, the Rangers special teams proved to be the difference.

Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome both scored power play goals in the second period and Greg McKegg scored a shorthanded goal in the third — his first goal as a Ranger — before Artemiy Panarin put the game away with an empty-net goal. Valtteri Filppula scored Detroit’s lone goal in the second period.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced and clearly outclassed Jimmy Howard, who is on the last year of his contract with the Red Wings.