At a glance: The Rangers clinched a playoff berth in a nasty rivalry game against the Devils Monday and face another tough test at Madison Square Garden tonight when they host the slumping Red Wings. An injury-plagued Detroit squad looks to avoid a six-game losing streak as they battle with Nashville for the fourth seed in the West and home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
Rangers rebound: Gloves dropped, fists flew and even the coaches exchanged verbal blows, but the Rangers prevailed 4-2 in their series finale against the Devils to snap a two-game skid and become the first team in the Eastern Conference to secure a post-season bid. The Rangers have two games remaining in a crucial seven-game homestand at the Garden. Following Wednesday’s match against the Wings, the Rangers face the Sabres Friday before embarking on a three-game trip.
A-OK: After missing the last two games with a left shoulder injury, Rangers forward Artem Anisimov will return against Detroit. The 23-year-old, who sustained the setback last week against the Penguins, practiced with the team Tuesday and said he “felt better.” Anisimov has 14 goals and 19 assists for the Blueshirts this season.
Banged up: Although the Rangers have had their share of injury troubles recently, the Red Wing’s woes are becoming particularly worrisome. Detroit is without veteran defenseman Nick Lidstrom, Johan Franzen and Darren Helm, among others. Both goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald are on the mend, as well. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ty Conklin will start against the Rangers after clearing re-entry waivers this afternoon.
Cool as a Zuke: Mats Zuccarello has provided the Rangers with some much-needed secondary scoring of late. The diminutive Norwegian forward, called up from the AHL earlier this month, has recorded a goal in two straight games. He has also received time with the Rangers’ first power-play unit since rejoining the club after 37 games with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale.
Making a push: With an 8-4 rout against Winnipeg Tuesday, the Penguins pulled within a point of the Rangers for the second time this week. Challenging the Rangers for the top spot in the East, Pittsburgh has recorded at least a point in their last 13 games.