NHL on NBCSN: Reloaded Red Wings, Rangers set to battle tonight

51 Comments

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the New York Rangers at Joe Louis Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

At this stage of the season, the Red Wings and Rangers have all-but secured a postseason berth and have their eyes on the playoffs. They were both active buyers in the lead up to the trade deadline with the Rangers adding defenseman Keith Yandle and forward James Sheppard while the Red Wings have welcomed blueliner Marek Zidlicky and winger Erik Cole to their ranks. Part of these final weeks of the regular season will be about integrating their new talent and getting into a playoff mindset, but they also have more immediate goals in mind.

Thanks to the parity in the conference, just about any team that makes the playoffs in the east will have a legitimate shot of going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. With the competition that tight, every little edge counts and both the Red Wings and Rangers have a chance to make life much easier for themselves in April and beyond by successfully securing the Atlantic and Metropolitan Division titles respectively.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Rangers are in a far better position to take their division going into this game. They’re just one point behind the leading Islanders despite having played in three fewer games. At the same time, the Rangers have to look over their shoulder as Pittsburgh has been surging lately and is just three points shy of overtaking them, making it still entirely conceivable that New York will not only miss out on first place, but also fail to secure the home ice advantage in the first round.

By getting Yandle, the Rangers arguably made the biggest splash in the trade market, so that gives them an advantage over their competition. Coming from Arizona, Yandle is thrilled to be part of a winning team.

“If you just look at the back end out, the Rangers are as strong as any team,” Yandle, who has been paired with Kevin Klein, said. “They are fast up front, have tons of speed and skill, and the goaltending is best in the league. I can’t find a weak flaw in the lineup so it’s pretty cool to be a part of it.”

Detroit’s in a more difficult position as it currently ranks third with 81 points behind Tampa Bay (84) and Montreal (87) in the Atlantic. However, the Red Wings have played in four less games than the Lightning and two fewer than the Canadiens, so they’re not entirely out of the race yet.

Cole and Zidlicky are projected to make their Red Wings’ debut tonight, but the big news out of Detroit is that Henrik Zetterberg (concussion) might be ready to return after skating with the team on Tuesday, per the team’s website. If the practice lines yesterday prove to be accurate, then Zetterberg will play alongside Cole and Justin Abdelkader, while Tomas Jurco, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar will form the other top-two line. Cole’s addition has also given the Red Wings the luxury of moving Gustav Nyquist to the third line. That provides them the depth needed to compete in a lengthy playoff run or, more immediately, take on New York tonight.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.