Rangers-Penguins matchups & predictions

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Here’s a look at how the Rangers and Penguins match up:

Forwards

The Flyers had an edge on the Rangers in this department, even though the Rangers had more depth. With Pittsburgh, it’s more than an edge. The Penguins have a ton more skill, and depth, and their forwards are nasty and rugged. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are two of the best on the planet (with Martin St. Louis, the last three NHL scoring champs are in this series). Crosby had no goals and six assists in the first round against the Blue Jackets and is due to break out. Malkin had a hat trick in Game 6. It is imperative that Rick Nash get on the scoresheet, and often, in this series, and that the Mats Zuccarello-Derick Brassard-Benoit Pouliot line picks up where it left off in Game 7 against the Flyers. The Rangers can’t have passengers up front, because Pittsburgh has guys such as James Neal and Chris Kunitz and so many others who can put the puck in the net frequently and consistently. Injured Penguins Brandon Sutter and Joe Vitale practiced Wednesday. The Rangers’ Chris Kreider (hand surgery) remains out indefinitely.

Edge: Penguins

Defensemen

Fortunately for the Rangers, their second pair of Marc Staal and Anton Stralman was fabulous against Philadelphia, because they will need two pairs to match against Crosby and Malkin, who usually don’t play on the same line. Ryan McDonagh, if his shoulder is indeed still an issue, won’t be helped by the six games in nine nights he will have played by Monday. Dan Girardi’s game was uneven during the previous round. Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin are better offensively than any Rangers defenseman (Niskanen and Martin combined for 16 points vs. the Jackets), but they are also mistake-prone and could be affected by the Rangers’ speed. Penguins rookie Olli Maatta is a wild card, and Brooks Orpik, who plays on the edge, has some sort of injury.

Edge: Even

Goalies

Henrik Lundqvist was excellent in Game 7 and some of the other games in Round 1, but he didn’t measure up to his lofty standard overall. He will have to steal games in this round, and his regular-season numbers against Pittsburgh (25-19-7, 2.46 goals-against average, .913 save percentage) are below his career averages. Marc-Andre Fleury has one thing — a Stanley Cup — that Lundqvist doesn’t. But unlike Lundqvist, he has cost his team playoff games and series since winning that Cup. If Fleury is locked in — and maybe getting through the first round this year will do that — he’s good enough to win again. If not …

Edge: Rangers

Special teams

Again, these are not the Flyers, and the Flyers scored six power-play goals (one into an empty net) against the Rangers. The Rangers’ penalty killing won Game 5 and was very good all season, but it broke down at times against Philadelphia. Pittsburgh’s power play scored six times in six games against Columbus. With all that skill, the Pens can make a team pay for going to the penalty box, and the Rangers have a new habit of taking penalties. Meanwhile, the Rangers’ power play, after registering two goals in Game 1, went 0 for 21 to end the series. It has been bad since late January.

Edge: Penguins

Coaches

Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma has one thing Alain Vigneault doesn’t have — a Stanley Cup ring. But both coaches have had extremely strong teams in recent years and have come up short. Vigneault got to within a game of the Cup three years ago, but he hadn’t been through the first round in three before this year. He’s done a great job with his new team overall. If he gets through this round, it will be a wild success.

Edge: Even

Prediction

Penguins in five

Josh Thomson, 26’s pick:

Penguins in six.

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by USA Today.

 

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112 Comments

  1. ThisYearsModel on

    Penguins in 5? Oh well, we keep our first round pick for now then. Would be a shame of we only got one off them, but i believe that, while the Rangers style was a good match for them against Philly and would have been vs. Columbus, it is not at all against the Penguins. Run and gun against them and you are in trouble.

  2. Love Marchand, take that guy on the rangers in a heartbeat.

    Pk slew foot getting under the bruins skin like Pouliot did the flyers.

    After we beat the pens I’d rather face mtl.

    If we lose to the pens I’m rooting for whichever team wins between bos mtl.

  3. ZzZz NYR ZzZz©" Give ZUCCO the C !!!"...says Greg L. on

    Rangers sweep the Penguins , you heard it here first!!!

  4. Just bought a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jams and looked at myself in the mirror. Just not the same. No swagger. Can’t afford to replace the Bahamas unless I find them at “the right price.”

  5. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Greg – no joke. I could see a Ranger sweep too. Pens are way over rated….Filthy crushed them in a bunch of games down the stretch.,.

  6. I am sooo over-hockeyed that I just heard a score, Pittsburgh 3, Baltimore 0, and I said to myself, who the hell is Baltimore?

  7. Only two professional major athletes from Thailand – Domi and Cobb. Forgot Wigginton.

  8. Laughed when Maloney said the toughest guy on his Ranger teams was John Ferguson, and he didn’t dress. :)

  9. Hi Carp,

    I agree that the Penguins top 6 forwards are significantly better than the Rangers top 6, but I don’t think depth up front is Pitt’s strong suit. Would you take their bottom 6 over the Rangers?

  10. ThisYearsModel on

    What kind of a Rangers Blogmeister picks the Penguins in 5? Where is Josh Thompson (26)? Where is Weinmann? Where is Walt MacPeek? Where is Helene Elliott?

  11. iManny-O-War on

    Carp: you ever hear the Knuckles Nilan story about Whitey Bulger and Co. using the Habs booster club bus to smuggle gangsters across the border?

  12. iManny-O-War on

    Carp: you have any update on Marcel Goc? I heard he wasn’t as practice a few days in a row.

  13. CARP, did you ever hear Manny’s story about nothing because that’s what most of his stories are about?

  14. Pierre: “You’re gonna need some Advil if you’re a fan of the Bruins or even the Bruins.”

  15. Ok so what if I said Nash would play the way he did for a couple weeks before the Olympic break?

    OR what if I said Nash would go another series without scoring a goal?

    Two different scenarios depending on what we get from mr paradox..

  16. Matty"BackInGoodOleUSA!!"Boy on

    Manny, agreed. That sucker bent almost 90 degrees. Amazing!!

  17. Matty"BackInGoodOleUSA!!"Boy on

    I think the book on Rask may be high, glove side.

    Was that all 4?

  18. Matty"CrosbySucks!!"Boy on

    Disappointed Carp feels this Pittsburgh team is so much better than we are. He only had the first round pegged to the goal!

    However, as a fan, my pick:

    Rangers in 6**

    **Don’t ask me if I believe it, though.

  19. iManny-O-War on

    @WhalerWatch: That’s no way to lose, Boston. RT @reporterchris: The Boston fans are pelting the Habs players with beer cans and other debris.

  20. Pat Leonard picks Rangers. Brett Cyrgalis thinks the Rangers will win. Ira Podell of AP. Kevin Allen of USA Today. All pick Rangers,

    Obviously, many of you do too.

  21. Put it this way im much more at ease going into a series against the Pens this year than I would have been in any of the past handful of years. ’11-12 included.

  22. ZzZz NYR ZzZz©" Give ZUCCO the C !!!"...says Greg L. on

    Where’s Olga ? Passed out drunk this early ?

  23. Playoffs Defense:

    Rangers 7 GP, 1.88 GA/G
    Penguins 6 GP, 3.0 GA/G

    we definitely have an edge there. I expect more from McDonagh and Girardi next series.

    I don’t expect to beat Pittsburgh, but I think we get more than 5 games……

    Power play will be the difference.

  24. unless sindy gets all the whistles when anyone breathes on the little FAAAAAG….THEN RANGERS IN 6 better goaltender, better defence and more line depth end o story

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