Stanley Cup Playoff Preview: Rangers vs. Penguins

Despite having Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sporting the Penguins logo, Pittsburgh are walking into their first round series as massive underdogs to the President Trophy winning New York Rangers.

Re-match anyone?

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers draw Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1 as the Penguins look to avenge their defeat in last year’s second round series. It almost didn’t happen for Pittsburgh, as they needed a win against Buffalo in the very last game of the season just to get into the playoffs and they have to prove to everyone they can, in fact, be a playoff team.

Meanwhile, the Rangers come in with high expectations and a strong desire to return to the Stanley Cup final where they fell short of hockey’s ultimate prize at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings one season ago.

The New York Rangers will have home-ice advantage.

(M1) vs. (WC2)
G1 Thurs., April 16 Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers, 7 p.m. ET CBC
G2 Sat., April 18 Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers, 8 p.m. ET CBC
G3 Mon., April 20 NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET CBC
G4 Wed., April 22 NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET SN 360
G5* Fri., April 24 Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers, TBD TBD
G6* Sun., April 26 NY Rangers @ Pittsburgh, TBD TBD
G7* Tues., April 28 Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers, TBD TBD
Play-by-play: Bob Cole; Game Analyst: Greg Millen; Reporter: Christine Simpson

NEW YORK RANGERS: 53-22-1. 1st in Eastern Conference
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: 43-27-12. 8th in Eastern Conference

NY Rangers: 3-0-1
Pittsburgh: 1-2-1

Last game played head-to-head: On Jan. 18 the Rangers chased Marc-Andre Fleury from the net after scoring four goals on 17 shots. Derek Stepan and Rick Nash both had two goals and the Rangers cruised to a 5-2 victory in Pittsburgh.

NY Rangers: Rick Nash (69 pts), Derick Brassard (60), Derek Stepan (55)
Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby (84), Evgeni Malkin (70), Kris Letang (54).

NY Rangers: 5on5CF% – 49.6; 5on5Sv% – .931; 5on5Sh% – 8.97; PDO = 102.1
Pittsburgh: 5on5CF% – 52.6; 5on5Sv% – .925; 5on5Sh% – 7.47; PDO = 99.9

NY Rangers: 7-3-0
Pittsburgh: 3-5-2

LAST TIME THEY MET IN THE PLAYOFFS: These two teams faced off in the playoffs just last year and the Rangers made history in their series win. Not only was it the first time the Rangers had ever beaten the Penguins in a playoff series, but it was the first time the franchise ever overcame a 3-1 series deficit to win. After taking Game 1 in overtime on the road, New York lost three in a row, but answered by winning three in a row of their own – two of which came in Pittsburgh.

We had plenty of Rick Nash goals to choose from, but the Presidents’ Trophy winners got some highlight-reel efforts from Cam Talbot this season. This goal line save on Nicklas Backstrom was easily one of the best stops of the entire season.

Evgeni Malkin is known for his highlight moves, but if that’s all you focus on, it’s easy to forget he’s a huge man who can throw his weight around with the best of them. Here he runs over Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.

New York: Rick Nash (day-to-day: general soreness), Marc Staal (day-to-day: general soreness), Kevin Klein (IR: arm).

Pittsburgh: Derrick Pouliot (day-to-day: upper-body), Kris Letang (Out indefinitely: concussion), Christian Ehrhoff (day-to-day: upper-body), Olli Maatta (IR: illness), Pascal Dupuis (IR: blood clots).

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Stanley Cup Playoff preview: Rangers vs. Penguins