New York Rangers
7:00 p.m., Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Last Penguins Game: January 19, 2013 - Penguins 3, Flyers 1 [Recap]
The Penguins got off to a fast start yesterday against the Flyers and completely dominated the first period of play while taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.The Penguins then got a little sloppy as the game went on and the offense wasn't the same the rest of the game but the defensive unit led by Paul Martin and Marc Andre Fleury held the fort and got the Pens the big win.
Things aren't easier today as they face off at MSG where if you are watching on TV will have the lighting of an average 1920's house with blind spots like you are driving a 1997 SUV. Fact of the matter is that for most people the Penguins and Rangers are two of the best three or four teams in the league and a matchup this early isn't going to decided the fate for the year but it can set the tone. The Rangers need to get back on track after falling to the Bruins last night and the Penguins are looking to continue the momentum after the win yesterday. Like I said winning this game isn't going to decide the season but the Penguins could have unreal confidence with a regular season win.
The Rangers are an unreal talented team as they were last year but they went and made a big move and acquired Rick Nash from the Blue Jackets for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and defensive prospect Tim Erixon. Dubinsky was a tool but Anisimov was a gritty forward that always seemed to score big goals. I am not a huge Nash fan and thing that he isn't all he is cracked up to be but I can't deny that he is a goal scoring talent to go along with the likes of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan. They are able to put the puck in the net at any time so the defense is going to have to step up. Lord knows I don't want to listen to that God awful goal song that MSG plays.
The defense is just as good with Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto so it isn't going to be easy for Crosby and company to get good looks but they have had success before. The real star of the show for the Rangers is goaltender Henrik Lundqvist as he might be considered the best in the game. Last season against the Penguins Lundqvist made four starts and posted an impressive 2.28 GAA and a .931 save percentage.
Tomas Vokoun is going to get his first start as a Penguin tonight. Before the season it was pretty much expected that he was going to get 15-20 starts and with the shortened season it looks like a great move by Ray Shero to bring in Vokoun. Should be interesting to see how he looks as he missed a large portion of the end of last season with a torn groin and then obviously hasn't played because of the lockout.
The Penguins are going to need to do the same thing they did yesterday. Keep things simple and make the smart play. I would anticipate that things are still going to be sloppy as teams are trying to get a feel back for the game so getting shots on net should be the game plan. The perfect passes just aren't going to be there yet so just throw pucks at the net and try to clean up the garbage if there is a rebound and get out of MSG with two points.
Interesting to note that the Penguins are 109-109-23-8 (OTL) against the Rangers in 249 games. That is pretty even, no?
Penguins (1-0-0) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Eric Tangradi - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Kris Letang - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
Rangers (0-1-0) (via Daily Faceoff)
Rick Nash - Brad Richards - Carl Hagelin
Marian Gaborik - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Chris Kreider - Brian Boyle - Taylor Pyatt
Mike Rupp - Jeff Halpern - Arron Asham
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto - Stu Bickel
The last time they met:
April 5, 2012 - Pittsburgh 5, New York 2