Prior to Thursday’s showdown with the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde was billing it as a test against a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Coming home following a daunting five-game road trip, Lalonde also knew it would be a litmus test of his team’s maturity and resiliency.
“This is a dangerous one,” Lalonde was explaining. “This travel was . . . this was a tough one. We went West Coast, Mountain Time Zone. West Coast, East Coast. There is some caution to that.”
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 24, 2023
Throw caution to the wind, though. The Red Wings were passing this test with flying colors.
Detroit whipped the Rangers 4-1 at Little Caesars Arena. The Red Wings are now 7-1 over their last eight games.
More importantly, when the night was done, the Red Wings were deadlocked with the Florida Panthers for eighth spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, the second Wild Card playoff position. Both teams are showing with 64 points. However, it’s Detroit that is holding three games in hand.
Red Wings Copp An Arresting Presence Against Old Team
Leading the way offensively for the Red Wings was center Andrew Copp. A Rangers player last season, he lit up his old club for a goal and a pair of assists.
Copp opened the scoring in the first period, converting a sweet cross-crease feed from Michael Rasmussen.
It was Detroit captain Dylan Larkin who was forcing the turnover that led to Filip Zadina’s game winner later in the frame. Copp drew a secondary helper when Rasmussen scored to make it 3-1 Detroit after 40 minutes.
Copp was also figuring in the scoring on a third-period power-play goal by Detroit defenseman Filip Hronek. He now has 31 points on the season, 25 of which are assists.