Red Wings captain on the big challenge ahead if Detroit is to make the playoffs. Ted Kulfan
New York — Are they trying to send management a message?
The Red Wings insist they aren’t, but in sweeping Carolina and the New York Rangers over the weekend, maybe they at least put a little bug in their collective ear.
Sunday, the Red Wings defeated the tanking New York Rangers, 3-2, as defenseman Trevor Daley deflected a pass from forward Frans Nielsen — no, not the other way around — 24 hours after the Red Wings beat the Hurricanes.
It was only the third Red Wings’ victory in 12 overtimes this season.
But more importantly, the Red Wings (26-26-10, 62 points) moved to within five points behind idle Columbus for the second and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
The latest surge comes as Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline looms when management is expected to search for deals to build for the Red Wings’ future.
“We, in the locker room here, do what we need to do, and they do what they need to do,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said.
Mike Green, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist and Luke Glendening have been rumored of being possibly dealt. And the Red Wings began a stretch Sunday of playing 10 of 11 games on the road.
The chances of moving up the standings remain remote. But the Red Wings would like the chance to do it with the roster they currently have.
Red Wings defenseman talks about avoiding the distraction of Monday's trade deadline and concentrating on winning after Sunday's 3-2 OT victory over the Rangers. Ted Kulfan
“I like the team we have here, we have an awesome group of guys,” Daley said. “We, in here, feel that we’re a good team. I don’t make those decisions, though.
“We just do what we can do on the ice.”
And they’ve done a good job of it, lately.
Red Wings coach discusses how the team needs to continue playing with a chip on its shoulder after a 3-2 OT win over the Rangers. Ted Kulfan
“That’s out of our control,” said coach Jeff Blashill of management’s trade deadline plans. “All we can do is focus on trying to win hockey games. Our team has done a good job of focusing on what we can control.”
If the Red Wings are playing with a chip on their shoulder, said Blashill, that’s a good thing.
“We should,” Blashill said. “From the beginning of the year, we’ve talked about that a little bit. We think we’ve been in position to do this type of thing, to go on runs, to be a playoff team. We haven’t done it enough.
“It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what you prove, but we believe a lot in this team. We’ve grown as a team through the course of the year.
“We’ve got to keep winning hockey games.”
Andreas Athanasiou and Darren Helm scored Red Wings' goals in regulation while J.T. Miller (power play) and Jesper Fast countered for the Rangers.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard (36 saves) and Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves) were often spectacular, as is usually the case when the two face each other at Madison Square Garden.
This time, Howard had the edge.
“Being from New York, and the Rangers being my team when I was just a little guy, I really, really, enjoy coming here,” Howard said.
Blashill has come to expect Howard playing otherworldly at Madison Square Garden, particularly after making a superb 2-on-1 glove save on Chris Kreider early in the game.
“It didn’t surprise me,” said Blashill, of Howard’s epic MSG games. “I can tell you when he made that save (on Kreider), I said ‘he’s on again’. It’s incredible.”
Blashill said Green, the Red Wings’ likely best trade option, as a pure rental for another team, is still considered day-to-day, after missing his sixth consecutive game Sunday, with what could be a neck injury.
Green skated Sunday morning, but wasn’t confident enough to play after having limited physical contact in two practices this week.
“He’s getting real close,” Blashill said. “I would say he’s day-to-day. He’s getting real close. He was real close to playing today, but he just couldn’t do it, he just didn’t feel confident.”