Blake Wheeler bumped to New York Rangers first line against Detroit Red Wings
On Tuesday night, the New York Rangers will take on the Detroit Red Wings in the first Original Six matchup of the season. After giving up a three-goal lead and losing in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, the Rangers will look to bounce back while still missing several key players. Following the loss, the Rangers hold a record of 8-2-1. They remain first in the Metropolitan division, but the New Jersey Devils are only two points behind.
This will be one of the bigger tests for the Rangers thus far. The Red Wings are off to a good start and hold a record of 7-4-1, good enough for second place in the Atlantic division. For New York, the goal will be to find a way to remain consistent while still missing key pieces. Adam Fox (LTIR) and Filip Chytil (IR) remain out, while Igor Shesterkin is day-to-day after taking light reps at practice on Monday.
Last season, the Rangers held a 1-1-1 record against the Red Wings in the teams’ three meetings against one another. In the last five meet-ups, they are 3-1-1. The Rangers will need to find ways to generate offense in 5v5 scenarios. Despite scoring four goals at even strength, the Rangers clearly struggled in their last game against the Wild. By the end of the night, they had been out shot 40-18.
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (8-2-1) vs Detroit Red Wings (7-4-1)
Date/Time: November 7, 2023 @ 7:30 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
Note: Subject to change, updated for each game
New York Rangers projected lineup
Looking to generate a spark on the right wing, Peter Laviolette has made some tweaks to the Rangers lineup. Based on Mondays practice, here are the expected line combinations and pairings:
Kreider – Zibanejad – Wheeler
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Bonino – Kakko
Vesey – Goodrow – Pitlick
Miller – Trouba
Lindgren – Gustafsson
Jones – Schneider
Note: The Rangers will have a pre-game skate scheduled for 10:30 AM ET at the MSG Training Center. Check back in for updates.
New York Rangers vs Detroit Red Wings
The glaring change here is that Blake Wheeler and Kaapo Kakko have been swapped on the right wing. There are a few reasons why this change was made. Wheeler and Kakko have both been failing to produce. They have combined for three points through 11 games, which creates a large issue when it comes to depth on the right wing. The switch does a few things. It gives Wheeler a chance to ignite as he is put back into a top six role and will be playing alongside Zibanejad and Kreider. It also gives Kakko a different look playing with new line mates. It may also serve as a wake-up call for the 22-year-old forward, now in his 5th NHL season.
“From a 5-on-5 standpoint, I think I’m just looking for a little bit more out of that line, out of all the lines,” Laviolette mentioned. “At some point, if you’re not getting the results that you’re looking for from a 5-on-5 standpoint with regard to a line, or a D-pair, or a team, you look at what you could do to see if it gives it a different look. I wanted to change the scenery for (Wheeler and Kakko).”
Another question mark is the defensive pairing of Braden Schneider and Zac Jones. It was not a great showing for the pair on Saturday night in Minnesota. Schneider was a -2 and Jones was a -1, while neither of the defensemen registered a point or shot on goal. Despite this, it looks like they will stick together heading into Tuesday’s matchup.
“I think we needed to be better defensively. We gave up way too many attempts, way too much zone time,” Laviolette explained. “It was just one game. It wasn’t one or two young defenseman. It was a group of guys who needed to do a better job. I don’t have a problem playing two young players together, we need to play better in general.”
While the Rangers wait for reinforcements to get healthy, they will need to continue to find ways to improve. Detroit has solid players throughout the lineup who will capitalize on the Rangers if they make the same mistakes they did against Minnesota. Dylan Larkin and Alex DeBrincat are one of the league’s best duos with 17 and 14 points respectively. Shayne Gostisbehere leads the way on defense with 9. In goal, Ville Husso has started 8 of 12 games, registering a 5-2-1 record with a .896 save percentage and a 3.37 GAA.
The Rangers will look to keep their seven-game point streak alive against a highly skilled Detroit team. In addition, Artemi Panarin will look to extend his point streak to 12 games. The Blueshirts will certainly need him again when the puck drops at Madison Square Garden.