Sunday, March 20, 2011

Game #72 - vs New York Rangers

Game 72
Rangers (38-30-4, 82 points) at Penguins (41-22-8, 90 points)

Why does it matter?
The Pens want the #4 seed for the playoffs to earn home ice in the first round. They're one point ahead of Tampa Bay, so a win at every opportunity is critical. The Rangers may be without King Henrik - that would be a fantastic opportunity if it proves to be true.

What has been happening lately?
  • Pens - Two strong wins against two cellar dwellers, followed by four days off. Not bad for hockey in March.
  • Rangers - The Rangers have been downright offensive, scoring 27 over the past 6 games to go with a 5-1 record over that span.
Questions to be answered
  • Can the Pens slow down the suddenly hot Rangers offense? That will involve a team effort, because the scoring has been spread around for the Blueshirts.
  • Will Lundqvist play? This alone may determine the outcome of the game. If he can't, Chad Johnson will be in net. No word on whether he'll change his name to "Dos Nueve".
  • Paging Alexei Kovalev and James Neal... please report to the offensive zone. Will they find it? They need to contribute if this team is going to do anything.
Keys to the game
  • Keep working - the Rangers are an "effort" team. They try to work you to death. Fortunately the Pens have had to get used to playing that way in recent weeks.
  • Score on the power play. The execution with the man-advantage has to improve (and heck, right now it has nowhere to go but up).
  • No dumb penalties. The Rangers have been hot on the power play lately, so avoid going to the box for dumb stuff.

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