Game 3 Preview: at New York Rangers - April 19, 2016



Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1) vs New York Rangers (1-1)
April 19, 2016 @ 7:00 PM - Madison Square Garden
TV: Root Sports Pittsburgh, USA Network
Series Tied 1-1


When the schedule was first announced, the two off days between Games 1, 2, and 3 appeared to favor a Pittsburgh team that was trying to get injured players back in the lineup. As things stand, it doesn't appear to be enough time for a group of injured Pens players that Mike Sullivan has listed as day-to-day. Evgeni Malkin, Olli Maatta, and Bryan Rust returned to action in New York's 4-2 win in Game 2, but each appeared to be less than 100% trying to jump into the pace of playoff hockey. Worse yet, the team has played tentative, conservative hockey in front of Jeff Zatkoff, opting for a more defensive mindset that doomed Pittsburgh under former head coach Mike Johnston.

It's certainly far too early to panic for the Penguins, but it's definitely eye-opening how this series has played out as it heads to New York tied 1-1. Pittsburgh's calling card under Mike Sullivan has been its ability to drive play at an elite level and be relentless in the pressure it puts on the opposition, yet through two games it's been the Rangers who've been controlling the play while the Pens play a much more passive and tentative game.

It's worthwhile to note that the Rangers' success has come from the top of their lineup. All of the team's point production from the forwards has come from the top 2 lines, while 5 of the team's 6 goals have been scored by those players as well. Keith Yandle scored the other goal after leading New York defensemen with 47 points in 82 regular season games. New York cannot match Pittsburgh's depth, and if the Penguins can start pinning the Rangers' top lines in their own zone then they'll have difficulty finding ways to score. Alain Vigneault shuffled his top lines heading into Game 2, and it paid off for New York as J.T. Miller had 3 assists on some nice passing and Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello found the back of the net.

Projected Lines





Notes

- Matt Murray returned to the practice ice yesterday as he continues to progress in his return from an upper body injury.

- Ryan McDonagh has gone through a full practice for the Rangers, and if he can get medical clearance he could return to the lineup as early as tonight.
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