Coming off their worst performance of a stellar opening 20 games, the New York Rangers are getting one of their stalwarts back for the blue line.
Two days after their most lopsided loss so far, the Rangers are expected to welcome Adam Fox back to their defense corps on Wednesday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings for the second time this month.
Fox is returning from a stint on long-term injured reserve after absorbing a knee-on-knee hit from Carolina forward Sebastian Aho on Nov. 2. Fox missed 10 games, and the Rangers were 7-2-1 in his absence. That stretch included a 5-3 win over Detroit on Nov. 7, a 5-3 win at New Jersey on Nov. 18 and Saturday's 7-4 win over Boston.
Fox was a full participant in the morning skate and practiced on Tuesday. Fox's return to participating in practices was perhaps the highlight of the hours leading up to Wednesday's meeting with Detroit since the Rangers lost 5-1 to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night and took their first loss by at least four goals since Dec. 27, 2022, a 4-0 defeat to the visiting Washington Capitals.
"He looks fine out there," Rangers coach Peter Laviolette told reporters at practice Tuesday. "He looks good. He's making plays. He's skating. He's been cleared full go for days now. ... One of the best in the business is coming back into our lineup."
The Rangers appeared a step slow against the Sabres -- who were coming off a 7-2 loss at New Jersey -- but New York was competitive until the final minutes of the third period thanks to goaltender Igor Shesterkin (34 saves). Mika Zibanejad scored a power-play goal midway through the third before New York allowed the final three goals.
"Tough, tough game for us (Monday)," Laviolette said in his brief postgame remarks. "We'll look at it. Fix it. Be better."
While Fox is returning, forward Kaapo Kakko will not be taking the ice anytime soon. He appeared to sustain a serious left knee injury late in the second period on Monday during a collision with Buffalo defenseman Erik Johnson and was placed on long-term injured reserve, meaning he will be out at least 10 games, though it seems Kakko's absence will be even longer.
Center Filip Chytil (upper body) also was placed on LTIR on Tuesday, retroactive to Nov. 3. He's been out since Nov. 2.
Detroit allowed a four-goal second period in the Nov. 7 meeting and has shown improvement in its recent outings since the previous visit to New York.
The Red Wings are on their second three-game winning streak this season and are 4-1-2 in their past seven contests. Detroit's early five-game winning streak featured four games decided by at least three goals.
The Red Wings head to New York after outscoring New Jersey, Boston and Minnesota 13-3 during the current winning streak, starting fast with a combined six goals in the opening periods.
David Perron scored two power-play goals in Sunday's 4-1 win over Minnesota, marking the eighth time this season the Red Wings scored at least twice on the man advantage. Dylan Larkin also scored Sunday and has scored in three straight games, but he will not play Wednesday against the Rangers and Thursday against Chicago due to a lingering injury.
The Red Wings own 11 wins through their first 20 games for the second straight season and are hoping to avoid a repeat of last season. After their strong start in 2022-23, the Red Wings went 2-6-3 in their next 11 games.
"It's up to us to keep finding ways to get points," Perron said. "I think the challenge now is heading back to New York, where we didn't play great at all last time. We proved that we can play good in Boston. We showed it (Friday) after the first game (against the Bruins) wasn't good, so it's up to us to do that next game again."
--Field Level Media
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|NY Rangers Off vs Detroit Def|