Monday, November 15, 2010

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins 11/15/2010 Pregame Notes Lundqvist In; Boogaard Out

Rangers (9-7-1) at Pittsburgh (9-8-1)
Key Opposing Player: Sidney Crosby (12-15-27)
Frolov- Christensen -Gaborik
Avery- Stepan -White

Staal - Girardi
Del Zotto - Eminger


According to the teams twitter feed Henrik will be back as expected and Boogaard will be out with a  sore hand (my hand hurts just watching the punches he threw)

The Rangers coming off two straight wins at home will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins tonight.  Coming off their best win of the season, statistically at least, the Rangers will take a big step up in terms of the competition level this evening.  The Rangers would love to have saved some of the extra goals from yesterday’s trouncing to use them tonight against the high powered offense of the Penguins.  The club will have to once again mix the fundamental grind it out type hockey with the skill a Gaborik can provide if they are to continue this good stretch.  Because the Rangers just love the rollercoaster they also had to deal internally today with Erik Christensen and his comments about Sean Avery’s role in yesterday’s brawl so instead of the game and fight being a team building thing it turned into a circus.  At least the fallout of Christensen shooting his mouth off was handled out of the press as Christensen should have handled his feelings on Avery’s actions.

The Rangers defense will need to bring their ‘A’ game tonight to deal with all the skill the Penguins can throw at them.  In addition to that it will be up to the forwards to give help not only in transition plays but also against the high potent defense core the Pens have.  Marc Staal for my money has played his best two games on defense the last two including a lot of physicality or Tortorella likes to call it jam yesterday.  Staal will need to continue that tonight along with Girardi if the Rangers are going to give Lundqvist every chance against a potent offense.  I am interested to see if Staal-Girardi gets split depending on if Pittsburgh plays Malkin and Crosby together or not because I would split them and play Staal-Sauer vs one and MDZ-Girardi against the other while putting Staal-Girardi together on the PK.

The opposition, Pittsburgh Penguins, have well-known and much talked about star talent in Crosby, and Malkin, but they go deeper especially in getting offense from their blue-line.  Already this year they have three guys with at least 9 points from defense, lead by Kris Letang’s breakout start of 3G 14A in 18 games.  The Penguin offense lead by Crosby and Malkin are certainly not bashful in shooting the puck averaging 31.1 shots per game so in Henrik’s first game back from illness he can expect to see a lot of rubber.  The reason the Penguins record is not better to start the season has been their struggles in net as Marc Andre-Fleury has been awful though Brent Johnson has been very good early in the year.  Johnson has shown signs of coming back to Earth of late with two bombs in his last three starts.  Everything sets this game up to be a high scoring affair.

The Rangers have been excellent on the road (5-2) this season and Penguins have struggled at home (3-5), so that combination could lead to interesting results tonight. 

Prediction: Rangers win 4-3