There is something magical about those Original 6 match-ups. The timeless red and white of the Detroit Red Wings. The timeless diagonal lettering of the New York Rangers. Madison Square Garden. A potential Stanley Cup Finals preview. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
The struggling and injury prone Detroit Red Wings hobbled into the Garden on Wednesday night, and played the Eastern Conference leading Rangers toe-to-toe for 60+ minutes. This game was the epitome of how hockey should be played. This was hockey at its finest. This wasn’t the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks brawling their way through a hockey game. This was about skating, passing, great defense and goaltending. It was a shame for Red Wings fans when Ryan Callahan found the game winner in overtime for obvious reasons, but was also a shame that a game like this had to end.
Madison Square Garden seems to bring out the best in Detroit goaltender Ty Conklin. Conklin, who lost his backup role to Joey MacDonald earlier this season, has a save percentage this season of .886, which is good enough for last in the NHL for goalies who have played in 10 or more games. But something about the Garden fires him up. He shut out the Rangers in his last visit to MSG as a member of the St. Louis Blues, and more than held his own tonight. Conklin stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced, and the one that beat him in regulation was hardly his fault. The Detroit defense split like the Red Sea as Brad Richards went coast to coast to tie the game at one in the first period. Conklin sure made the most of his second chance, this time playing in place of the injured Red Wings goalies Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald.
Henrik Zetterberg scored the lone goal for Detroit tonight as they picked up an important point moving forward. The point they picked up tonight puts them back into 4th place in the Western Conference, ahead of the Nashville Predators and streaking Chicago. It isn’t often that a single point is satisfactory in a playoff race, but picking up the point against East-leading Rangers is big considering the way Detroit has struggled lately.