Friday, December 30, 2005

Game #37 - vs Rangers

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins

New York - 22-12-4 - 48 pts - Second in Atlantic
Pittsburgh - 9-19-8 - 26 pts - Last in Atlantic

The Rangers are coming off of a 6-2 win (sound familar?) on Wednesday night over the Islanders on the road. They scored four times in the third period to win the game (it was tied 2-2 going into the third). They have been struggling of late, going 5-4-1 in their last 10, but they've won two of their last three, losing only on the road at Ottawa.

The special teams for the Rangers have been hot and cold. The power play has been mostly cold, other than a three goal outburst before Christmas against Tampa Bay. Their penalty kill has been the opposite, mostly shutting down opponents, other than allowing three goals in their loss earlier in the week against Ottawa.

Individually, as Jagr goes, so do the Rangers. In the last 10 games, every game he has two or more points, the Rangers have won. Every game he has been shut out, or held to a single point, the Rangers have lost. Shut down Jagr, and you have a good chance to win the game. Hopefully the home fans at the Igloo will be able to get under his skin a little bit (as much as I hate to see that, because I think Jagr did a lot of great things in this city).

For the Pens, they need more of the same from Thursday against the Devils. Here are my keys to the game:
  • Get the opponent shots down lower than 46
  • Stay out of the penalty box
  • Win the battle at even strength, since the Rangers have a great PK
  • Shut down Jagr
It's a tall order, but if the Pens want to be one of the top teams in the second half (as outlined in my playoff article published earlier today), this is where they need to start.

Let's go Pens!

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