The New York Rangers (29-22-4) are finally getting close to playing at full strength again, but that better health hasn't translated to any victories in the standings as of late. Losers of four straight games, with their latest regulation victory coming on Jan. 19, the seventh-place Rangers face their toughest test on this mini three-game road trip, a date with the second-best team in the West, the Detroit Red Wings (31-15-6) at Joe Louis Arena.
The Rangers come into Detroit with a league-leading 17 road wins, but the organization itself has not won a game at the visiting venue since 1999. World-class winger Pavel Datsyuk, who's been out since Dec. 22 with a broken hand, will return to the lineup for the Red Wings. Add in the fact that the Red Wings have been shutout for two straight games -- and the franchise has never been shutout in three straight in its history -- and the Rangers have their work cut out for them as they look to snap the losing skid.
Despite the loss against the Montreal Canadiens in their last game, where they outshot the Habs 19 to 6 in the third period, but could not score, John Tortorella and the entire Rangers team seems to be upbeat about the way they've played -- at least during 5-on-5 situations. When it comes to the power play, that's a totally different story as it's been killing their momentum and been totally lost and ineffective. Over the past seven games, it has gone 3 for 26.
Also missing from the box score lately is Marian Gaborik. Reunited with Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal, two players who seem to have had the best chemistry with the Rangers' best goal scorer, Gaborik has failed to become a consistent force for New York's offense. He has one goal in his past seven games.
The Wings boast a lineup with a trio of talented veteran forwards, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Datsyuk, along with an 11-time All-Star on defense, Niklas Lidstrom. Detroit has scored the third most goals in the entire NHL.