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Rangers Begin Homestand Against Red Wings at The Garden

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers (11-9-2, 24 pts) vs Red Wings (10-9-3, 23 pts)
7 pm, Madison Square Garden
MSG 2; ESPN 1050 AM

The Game

The Rangers return to action for a Black Friday meeting with the Detroit Red Wings tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts are riding a two-game winning streak following a one-sided, 6-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday evening. Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast each scored while Henrik Lundqvist allowed just one power play goal in finishing with 32 saves.

New York will once again be without captain Ryan McDonagh, who will miss his second straight game with a strained abdomen. Coach Alain Vigneault said he'd be reevaluated this weekend, making his availability for Sunday's match uncertain.

Friday's matchup with Detroit marks the first of three games between these Original Six foes, and the first of two at The Garden. 

The Red Wings have been one of the bigger surprises in the NHL through the first quarter of the regular season. After missing the playoffs for the first time in two and a half decades, Detroit has surprised many by being in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race at Thanksgiving, as they're currently third in the Atlantic Division.

Detroit comes into Friday's game losers of two straight - one in overtime - including a 6-2 defeat Wednesday night against the Oilers at home.

Dylan Larkin is having a strong bounce back season after a somewhat disappointing sophomore campaign a year ago with 20 points in 22 games following 32 points in 80 games a year ago. Fellow youngster Anthony Mantha has 19 points in 22 games, while the resurgent Mike Green has 17 points and is on pace for his best season since his Washington days.

Jimmy Howard is again the No. 1 man in goal for the Red Wings. He's posted an 8-6-2 record with a .923 SV% and a 2.50 GAA through 17 starts this season. 

Players to Watch

After snapping a five-game goal drought with a pair of tallies Wednesday night, Kreider looks to stay hot against a team he's had success against as of late. The 26-year-old has points in sive of his last six games against Detroit with a goal and five assists during that span, and three goals and six assists over his last 10 against the Wings.

As stated, Larkin is having a great third season in the NHL following a sophomore slump in 2016-17. After a Calder Trophy-caliber season with 23 goals and 45 points in 2016, Larkin had just 17 goals and 32 points in 80 games a year ago. While he's got just four goals in 22 games, Larkin has already eclipsed his assist total from last year with 16 helpers, and after finishing the year as a minus-28, Larkin is currently a plus-1.

Projected Rangers Lineup

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Rick Nash - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Michael Grabner - J.T. Miller - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - Boo Nieves - Paul Carey

Brady Skjei - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brendan Smith - Nick Holden
Marc Staal - Steven Kampfer

Injury: Ryan McDonagh (strained abdomen) 

Inside the Numbers

Eight of the last 16 contests between the Rangers and Red Wings, including seven of the last 13 games and four of the last seven games, have been decided in overtime.

Eight of the last nine games between New York and Detroit have been decided by one goal. In addition, 12 of the last 14 games and 16 of the last 20 meetings between the two teams have been decided by one goal. 

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