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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pens vs Rangers: Series Preview, Schedule and Predictions

The Pittsburgh Penguins will face the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Rangers eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers is a grueling seven-game series, defeating the Flyers in game Wednesday night. Most Pens fans wanted the Rangers to beat the Flyers and for good reasons, as the Penguins are a much better matchup against the Rangers. The Pens will also have a big advantage as far as scheduling goes, as the Rangers will have to play five playoff games in a week. The Rangers played a game six and seven on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Flyers, and will play the Pens on Friday(Game One), Sunday(Game Two), and Monday(Game Three). 

Game 1 Friday, 5/2 - NY Rangers at PITTSBURGH, 7:00PM ET

Game 2 Sunday, 5/4 - NY Rangers at PITTSBURGH, 7:30PM ET

Game 3 Monday, 5/5 - PITTSBURGH at NY Rangers, 7:30PM ET

Game 4 Wednesday, 5/7 - PITTSBURGH at NY Rangers, 7:30PM ET

Game 5 *Friday, 5/9 - NY Rangers at PITTSBURGH, TBD

Game 6 *Sunday, 5/11 - PITTSBURGH at NY Rangers, TBD

Game 7 *Tuesday, 5/13 - NY Rangers at PITTSBURGH, TBD

Pens won season series 2-1-1. 

Rangers top three scorers in the playoffs: 

1. Brad Richards 6 points
2. Martin St. Louis 6 points
3. Mats Zuccarelllo 4 points

Rangers top three possession players: 


Rangers' three worst possession players: 

Rangers top defensive unit: 

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. 

McDonagh is a stud, leading all Rangers in ice-time, playing over 25 minutes per night so far in the postseason. Girardi is right behind him in time-of ice and they both will be on the ice against Sidney Crosby for most of the series. Marc Staal is also a pretty good defenseman and will almost certainly be out there when either Malkin or Crosby or on the ice. 

Struggling scorers: 

Crosby hasn't scored a playoff goal in 11-straight games. Rick Nash has just two career playoff goals in 23 games, and none so far this postseason. Something has to give at some point for these guys right? 

Reasons the Pens matchup well against the Rangers.

1. The schedule. The Rangers truly did get screwed with the schedule for this series. The Rangers just played a grueling seven-game series against one of their biggest rivals, which ended in playing games six and seven on back-to-back nights. Now the Rangers have to play three more playoff games in four days, including another back-to-back. I think the Penguins will be able to wear them down and take advantage.

2. Sidney Crosby. Crosby hasn't scored in 11 straight playoff games, but it's not he's never going to score another goal in the playoffs ever again. Crosby has 65 points in 47-career games against the Rangers and is due to breakout. Odds are that Crosby has a big series.

3. Special teams. The Penguins have a better power play and penalty kill than the Rangers. The Rangers' power play stinks, and that could be just what the doctor ordered, considering that the Penguins' penalty kill is really struggling right now. The Rangers were tied with Dallas for the third-worst penalty kill in the first round of playoffs, going just 3-for-29. Yikes.

According to Stan Fischler the series is already over and the Rangers have already won the series. 

1940. Pens 4-0 against the Rangers in playoff series all-time. Stan Fischler sucks. Rick Nash sucks. Adam Graves will always suck.


Some thoughts from Beth Myncin

Marc-Andre Fleury posted a .908 save percentage in the first round, which is not telling of how many “how did he do that” saves he made. He was one of the Penguins best players in the first round, and seriously quieted haters after rebounding from a bad ending to Game 4 of the first round. 

My X factor is Brandon Sutter. He had an insane first round, and is probably playing the best hockey in his career. In six games played he had 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) and was a constant boost for the Penguins every time he stepped foot on the ice. This is what the playoffs are all about. Guys stepping up big in “do or die” situations.

The Penguins will lose if they start playing a game other than their own. If they take dumb penalties, they will lose. And frankly, this series is theirs to lose. Over the course of the season they have proven themselves a better team. They finished second in the East, despite an injury riddled roster and have the talent to glide through the series. They need their players to step up big, and they need more contributions from guys like Brandon Sutter. I am also pretty sure that Henrik Lundqvist has nightmares of Evgeni Malkin. Let’s hope he brings that nightmare to the ice tomorrow night.

They will also lose if they start this conservative approach once they get a lead. They cannot simply depend on the defense. The defense is sometimes on, and sometimes off. Keep going to the net. Create traffic in front of Lundqvist. That is when they are at their best- when their players are not scared to get in the middle of it all. 

 Pens in 6.

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