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Post-clinch Rangers welcome in banged-up Wings

by Dave Lozo
RED WINGS (44-25-4) at RANGERS (45-20-7)
Last 10:
Detroit 3-6-1; New York 4-5-1
Season series: This is the only meeting between the Original Six squads this season.
Big story:
The Red Wings are one of the most injury-riddled squads in the NHL and falling apart at the worst time. They have lost five straight and seven of eight with Nicklas Lidstrom among the many watching from the press box. Meanwhile, the Rangers are trying to stave off the hard-charging Penguins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and are coming off two straight solid performances, something that's been a rarity of late.
Team Scope:
Red Wings: Trailing 3-0 at home against the Washington Capitals, the Red Wings made a push over the final two periods. They cut the Caps' lead to 4-3 with 7:08 remaining, but couldn't complete the comeback in a 5-3 loss.

Jimmy Howard, who is out for Wednesday's game with a groin injury, made 17 saves. The Red Wings were missing Lidstrom, Darren Helm, Joey MacDonald, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl.

"You can't look at injuries, you have to look past that," defenseman Brad Stuart said.  "Every team battles injuries at some point. For us to use that as a crutch or anything is a mistake. We have enough good players in here to make up for that. We have to find a way to win some games. That's the bottom line."
Rangers: Brandon Dubinsky scored 1:11 into the game and the Rangers never relinquished the lead in a 4-2 victory against the Devils on Monday. The win made the Rangers the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff berth.

It's a stark contrast from last season, when the Rangers were the last team in the East to clinch, and did so by winning their final game and getting some help later that night.

"It's pretty cool," said defenseman Dan Girardi, who scored his fifth of the season in the victory. "Me and Marc (Staal) were talking about that. It's our first time since I've been here, in six years, that we clinched this early. It's nice. It's a nice feeling knowing you'll be in the playoffs, but now it's a matter of staying up top and trying to create some space up top. It's a different feeling for us. We have to handle it the right way."
Who's hot:
Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin has 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in his last 13 games.
Injury report: The Red Wings will be without goaltenders Howard (groin) and MacDonald (back) and will have Ty Conklin available to start if he passes through re-entry waivers. Helm (knee), Franzen (back spasms), Kindl (strained oblique), Ericsson (broken left wrist) and Lidstrom (bone bruise in right ankle) are out indefinitely.
Stat pack: The Red Wings' power play is 1-for-March, which covers 32 opportunities. However, that one goal came in the Wings' last game vs. Washington.
Puck drop: "No one needs to feel sorry for themselves," Stuart said. "We just have to keep working hard and work our way out of it, because that's the only way it's going to happen. You can't sit around and hope something good is going to happen. You have to make it happen."

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