Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Reinforcements on the Way

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Reinforcements on the Way

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- Not that the Rangers can relax, not with their upcoming schedule and not in this tight playoff race.

But maybe having Henrik Lundqvist back in net and, almost certainly, Rick Nash and Marc Staal back in the lineup as well, will help the team loosen its cliched grip on its sticks when it faces the Red Wings this afternoon at venerable Joe Louis Arena.

"We haven't really been playing great," right wing Mats Zuccarello said. "We want to play better so it's a big game [today].

"We have to make plays, we can't give the other team many chances," Zuccarello added. "We're trying our best every time we go out there. Some nights it's tougher than others to get it going, where you tighten up your hands and your stick is too tight."

Rick Nash, who has missed 20 games with a left leg bone bruise, was cleared for contact Friday. Coach Alain Vigneault said after practice at the Madison Square Garden Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y. there was a "very good chance" Nash will be in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 22.

Defenseman Marc Staal also practiced after missing the last two games with back spasms and three of the last four, including a bout with flu-like symptoms.

"He should be good to go," Vigneault said.

The same is true for Lundqvist, who will be back after missing three games with neck spasms suffered in a collision with captain Ryan McDonagh in a 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh on March 3.

With Antti Raanta in net, the Rangers did beat the NHL-leading Capitals, 3-2, at Washington on March 4 but lost to the Islanders, 6- 4, at the Garden on Sunday by giving up three goals in the first 4:45. The team slogged through a 4-2 win at Buffalo on Tuesday.

"When you have a game like the Islanders, we were probably gripping the stick a little too tight [against the Sabres]," left wing Chris Kreider said. "Worrying a little too much and overthinking things instead of just settling down and have some self- determination, an inherent ability to reboot and come in and just play hockey. …

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