When the Rangers take on the Red Wings today in Hockeytown, they’ll have Rick Nash in the lineup. For the first time since Jan. 22, Nash will play in a game on a newly constructed line with Eric Staal and Viktor Stalberg. He missed 20 games with a leg bruise that took longer than expected to recover. Without him, they went 13-6-1. His 33 points in 45 contests ranks sixth in team scoring.
With 15 games left in the regular season, the Blueshirts are hoping Nash finds his form down the stretch. He only had 12 goals before the injury. If he can find chemistry with Staal, that could play a pivotal role in what happens this Spring. The Rangers hold a two-point edge over the Islanders for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Isles are trailing the Bruins 1-0. They hold two games at hand.
Also joining Nash is Henrik Lundqvist. He’ll be back in net to face Detroit starter Petr Mrazek. He missed the past three games with neck spasms which were sustained when Ryan McDonagh accidentally collided with him during the second period of a 4-1 loss on Mar. 3 at Pittsburgh. Backup Antti Raanta did a solid job winning two of three starts including a 3-2 win over the Caps. Following a odd 6-4 loss to the Islanders, he was strong stopping 34 shots in a 4-2 win over the Sabres.
With back-to-back games this weekend including the Pens paying a visit to MSG tomorrow, it’ll be interesting to see if Alain Vigneault plays Lundqvist for both. Assuming everything goes well today, that will probably be the case.The Blueshirts then get a couple of days off before a tough three games in four days Californian trip at Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.