The New York Rangers will be looking for their third straight win over the Penguins, a win that would open up a six point margin with 10 games to play. Pittsburgh won’t be a pushover, they are coming off two tough losses to the Avalanche. Since the Rangers beat them 5-1 on March 25, they have won only twice in six games and have lost four of the last five. Not only that, they have won in regulation only three times in their last 11 games.
One thing is for sure, if the Rangers play the “prevent offense” style they employed against the Devils, it could be trouble. They need to play the way they did in their 5-1 win, with crisp breakout passes, no dumb turnovers, a tenacious forecheck and timely scoring.
Igor Shesterkin will be in net for New York and he has improved since he was chased in the 7-4 loss to the Devils. He has gone 2-1-1 and has allowed nine goals in the four games. He was very unhappy with his performance against the Flyers and will be looking to rebound tonight. He will be opposed by Tristan Jarry who has started eight of the last 10 games. He’s hit a bit of a wall, allowing 18 goals in his last five starts.
The playoff picture
The Rangers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is four (they hold the ROW tiebreaker over Washington). They are also only two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first place. The Canes are hosting Buffalo tonight and have a game in hand. If the Rangers can beat the Penguins they wll open up a six point lead on them with 10 games left. With that lead, if the Rangers played .500 hockey the rest of the way they would finish with 108 points and the Penguins would have to win eight of their last 10 games to tie.
The season series
The Rangers lost their first game, 1-0, to the Penguins on February 26 on a third period Malkin power play goal. In their next game on March 25 at the Garden, the Rangers played what might have been their best game of the season, winning 5-1. Again, the only Pittsburgh goal was on the power play.
Most recently, the Rangers prevailed 3-2 in Pittsburgh on March 29, as they came from behind to win on a Chris Kreider third period power play goal.
Igor Shesterkin has a 2-1 record with a 1.35 goals against average (GAA) and a .944 save percentage (Sv%) with three only one of the four goals he has allowed scored at even strength.
Tristan Jarry is 1-2 with a 2.77 GAA and a .904 Sv% against the Rangers this season.
The Rangers will be going with the same lineup that beat the Devils with Justin Braun getting another start on the left side of Braden Schneider. Speaking of the rookie, though Chris Kreider said that he is known as “Baby Trouba”, Schneider revealed his real nickname is TJ or “Troubs Junior.”
NEW YORK RANGERS
20 Kreider – 93 Zibanejad – 77 Vatrano
23 Panarin – 16 Strome -18 Copp
13 Lafreniere – 72 Chytil – 21 Goodrow
64 Motte – 76 Brodzinski – 29 Hunt
55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
61 Braun – 45 Schneider
59 Jake Guentzel – 87 Sidney Crosby – 17 Bryan Rust
67 Rickard Rakel – 71 Evgeni Malkin – 77 Jeff Carter
9 Evan Rodrigues -53 Teddy Blueger – 42 Kasperi Kapanen
43 Danton Heinen – 11 Brian Boyle – Anthony Angello
8 Brian Dumoulin – 58 Kris Letang
5 Mike Matheson – 2 Chad Ruhwedel
28 Marcus Pettersson – 6 John Marino
35 Tristan Jarry
1 Casey DeSmith
Jason Zucker is close to returning from a knee injury and practiced with the team, but will probably not play tonight.
How to watch and the live conversation
This is one of those weird games available on ESPN+ and Hulu. Beware the flying camera! Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm. MSG Network will be providing full pre and post game analysis.
The Blue Line Station live conversation is now active so you can follow the game with your fellow Ranger fans and join the chorus of complaints about the ESPN telecast. Feel free to express your opinions in the comments section below.