DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Red Wings are coming off perhaps their best game of the season.
The New York Rangers are coming to Detroit minus their most important player.
The Rangers, who face the Red Wings on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, announced Saturday that goaltender Henrik Lundqvist would miss two to three weeks with a muscle strain in his hip that he suffered in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers.
“My body was going one way, the leg the other way, and I had an impact on my hip,” Lundqvist told the New York Daily News. “So we’ll take some time here to get some treatment and heal.”
Lundqvist finished Tuesday’s game but gave way to Antti Raanta for Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Raanta will carry the load while Lundqvist recuperates and Magnus Hellberg was recalled from AHL Hartford to serve as his back up.
“I don’t try to be Hank,” Raanta told the Daily News, “I just try to be myself.
“I know that every time when I play, it’s always a big thing for me to show what I can do. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was confident that Lundqvist would be back in action long before the Stanley Cup playoffs get underway April 12.
“This is a muscle strain, and muscle strains are usually two to three weeks,” Vigneault told the Daily News. “That’s what we expect in this case.”
The Rangers anticipate that forward Rick Nash, who missed Thursday’s loss at Carolina with an upper-body injury, and forward Michael Grabner (hip), who has missed the last five games, will both be back in action Sunday.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill, who scratched 14-goal scorer Anthony Mantha for Friday’s 4-2 win over Chicago, would not confirm whether the rookie forward’s sit-down was a one-game punishment.
“I think Anthony Mantha is going to be a really good player in this league and could be a great player in this league and I think he’s been a really good player for us this season,” Blashill said. “I think Anthony, from the time I’ve known him, has wanted to be better.
“That doesn’t mean you always agree with your coach but he absolutely wants to be a really good player, and so I know anything from not playing that he would gain would be in a fashion of how can I make sure this doesn’t happen again and how can I make sure I’m better?”
Blashill felt the Red Wings were much better against the Blackhawks, which followed a dreadful performance in their previous contest, a 6-1 loss at Boston.
“I thought we did a real good job in a lot of areas,” Blashill said. “I thought our track pressure was as good as it’s been all season, so that allowed our gaps to be real good.
“I thought because of our pressure both in tracking and our pressure in the neutral zone, it gave us a little more time to break the puck out.”
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