Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the favored New York Rangers and the limping Pittsburgh Penguins gets underway at Madison Square Garden
- Time: 7:00 pm EST
- Location: Madison Square Garden- New York, NY
- Where to watch/listen: NBCSN, MSG/WEPN 98.7
And so it begins.
The long-awaited matchup between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins gets underway tonight. After a thrilling day one of this season’s playoffs, expect nothing different.
The Rangers are out to defend their Eastern Conference championship from last year. Unlike last year, they are no longer the hunters, but the hunted. That’s due to their accomplishments in the regular season: President’s Trophy, Eastern Conference champions in the regular season, and Metropolitan Division crown.
Now, it is comes down to four teams in their way of the ultimate prize. And it starts tonight, at home.
New York Rangers
The team enters tonight being the best overall team in the NHL this season. Something that’s not been seen since 1994.
And that was accomplished without a player scoring over 70 points or 50 goals. No, it’s been an offense with a team mentality. Has not been just one man or a few who stand out as offensive threats teams can strategize around. It’s been a shared belief on the ice.
At home this season, the Rangers were 25-11-5. The team scored 123 goals at Madison Square Garden, which was good for eight best in the NHL this season. They are the tenth best team at home in goals against, allowing 95.
The Ranger also boast the league’s ninth least penalized team at home, going 113 time short-handed. They had a 84.1% penalty kill rate, allowing 18 goals.
To the end regular season, the Rangers went 6-1 while experiencing late-season injuries. Fortunately, the team is relatively healthy and appear ready for another playoff run, starting with the Penguins tonight.
1st line: Rick Nash–Derick Brassard–Mats Zuccarello
2nd Line: Chris Kreider–Derek Stepan–J.T. Miller
3rd line: Carl Hagelin–Kevin Hayes–Martin St. Louis
4th Line: Tanner Glass–Dominic Moore–Jesper Fast
D, Kevin Klein (broken arm)
The Penguins are limping into the playoffs, both in the injury department and team performance on the ice.
Once a pre-season favorite to make a run for the Stanley Cup, they have become the underdogs. Not many are giving them a chance to make it out of the first round.
However, history is on their side. In the 1991-1992 season, they knocked off the Rangers, who were the top team in the league that season. Some guys named Mario Lemieux Jaromir Jagr played for the Penguins that year.
But that was a different time, different players.
If history plays a part in this series, then one could reference what happened last year the last time these two teams met in the playoffs. That was the same series which made famous, ‘squirt gate’.
On the road this season, the Penguins are 20-13-8 scoring 101 goals, which ranked them 17th during the regular season. They also gave up the same amount to their opponents, which ranked them sixth best on the road.
The Penguins special teams was ranked in the top ten this season. They possess the 10th best power play unit with 19.3%, scoring 49 goals. They have the third best penalty kill unit with 84.8%, allowing 20 power play goals while on the road.
However, the Penguins weakness heading into this round may fall on their defense. All-star defenseman Kris Letang is expected to miss these playoffs after suffering a concussion in a late-season game. Another key injury on defense is Oli Maata, who is out indefintely due to a shoulder injury. Other injuries include Derrick Pouliot and Christian Ehrhoff, both of whom are day-to day. Pascual Dupuis is the only starting forward not in the lineup, due to blood clot discovered earlier this season. He is out indefinitely, as a result.
1st line: Daniel Winnick-Sidney Crosby–Patric Hornqvist
2nd Line: Chris Kunitz–Evgeni Malkin–David Perron
3rd line: Beau Bennet-Brandon Sutter–Steve Downie
4th Line: Nick Spaling–Maxim Lapierre–Blake Comeau
F, Scott Wilson
D, Scott harrington
In net for the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist will make his 93rd start of his playoff career. He brings a record of 43-48-9, a 2.24 goals against average, and save percentage of .922 in his time with the team.
Versus the Penguins this season, Lundqvist is 3-0-1 with a 1.69 GAA and one shutout.
For the Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod. In the playoffs for this career, Fleury is 52-40-8 with a 2.68 GAA, .905 save percentage, and eight shutouts.
Fleury is 1-2-1 against the Rangers this season, with a 4.21 GAA.
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