Penguins vs. Rangers: Round Two Preview

1a-1

The Penguins face off against the Rangers in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Winner of this series moves on the the Eastern Conference Finals. Below is a quick Preview of what to expect.

Schedule

Game 1 5/2/2014 @ Pittsburgh – 7:00 est
Game 2 5/4/2014 @ Pittsburgh - 7:30 est
Game 3 5/5/2014 @ New York – 7:30 est
Game 4 5/7/2014 @ New York – 7:30 est
Game 5 5/9/2014 @ Pittsburgh (If Needed)
Game 6 5/11/2014@ New York (If Needed)
Game 7 5/13/2014@ Pittsburgh (If Needed)

Series Preview

Goaltending
Which goaltender will come out victorious? It was nearly six years ago the last time the Penguins faced off against the Rangers it was at that time that Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Since then there have been a plethora of blunders on Marc’s part all the while Henrik Lundqvist has stayed very consistent.
This series could be won or lost in the blue paint and to be honest Penguins fans should not worry about Fleury as he has shown a lot of the calmness and abilities he did six years ago. As for Henrik, the pressure is all on him. Will he stand tall or let the Penguins show him up?

Stars
Whether its Crosby and Malkin or Nash and Richards, the Superstars of these two teams will need to be unbelievable to help lead their team to the Conference finals.
While the Penguins big guns struggled in the first Round, Geno found a way to break free in Game 6 and looks to carry that momentum moving forward. IF Crosby can get back on track as well there is no telling what that Penguins offense can do.
As for the Rangers Nash struggled slightly in the first round scoring no goals and registering only 4 points. If he can get up to speed and start getting the puck in the Net the Rangers will absolutely give the Penguins some issues.

Coaching
Dan Bylsma shocked the world in Round 1 when he completely adjusted not only the Line Combinations but the game plan as well. Utilizing a more defensive style system similar to that of a Trap, Bylsma may have finally realized that protecting and supporting his goaltender will get you further then leaving him out to dry all the time.
As for the Rangers it easy to see Vigneault clearly helped this team since the Tortorella days. The Rangers also seem to respond better to him. If he can keep his team focused and not let the Penguins stars get to their game there is no reason to think New York cannot win this series.

Penguins Season Series Numbers

Wins: 2-1-1
Goals For:
12
Goals Against: 13
Power Play %: 35.7%
Face Off %: 49.6%

Rangers Season Series Numbers

Record: 2-1-1
Goals For:
13
Goals Against: 12
Power Play %: 18.7%
Face Off %: 50.3%

Penguins Playoff Numbers

Goals For: 21
Goals For per Game: 3.50
Goals Against: 18
Goals Against per Game: 3.0
Power Play %: 20.7%
Penalty Kill %: 74.1 %
Face Off %: 48.4%
Top Scorer: Matt Niskanen 8 points

Rangers Playoff Numbers

Goals For: 19
Goals For per Game: 2.71
Goals Against: 16
Goals Against per Game: 2.29
Power Play %: 10.3%
Penalty Kill %: 71.4%
Face Off %: 48.4%
Top Scorer: Martin St. Louis 6 Points

Penguins Buzz & Injury News

Brooks Orpik (Undisclosed)
Pascal Dupuis (Knee)
Thomas Vokoun (Blood Clots)

Rangers Buzz and Injury News

Prediction

The Penguins struggled in Round 1, there is no denying that. But I believe it is highly unlikely they struggle in round 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pittsburgh takes a commanding 3-0 lead before winning it in game 5. For Pittsburgh, Columbus was never given proper respect until Game 5, something that is guaranteed to not happen with the Rangers.
Crosby will come out of his scoring slump for sure and as long as Malkin continues his level of play from here on out, I can’t imagine the Rangers being capable of holding this team back.

I also believe that the rigorous series with the Flyers may have tired the Rangers with only a single day rest between Game 7 and Game 1 of Round 2, they may show a bit of fatigue early in this round. You also have to realize that New York will have played 5 games in 7 days one this series hits game 3. So look for that to be a factor this series.

Lundqvist will surely be a factor in this series but as long as the stars on the Pens produce there should be little fear in Henrik’s abilities.

All in all this comes down to Bylsma and the way he handles his team. Will he continue using what worked in Games 5 and 6 against the Jackets, or will he go back to his old Game Plan and system? If it is the latter I can see things going very wrong for the Pens, but if they stay the course in what made them a successful team in Round 1 no reason the Pens can’t quickly dispatch the Rangers.

Penguins in 5.

From the KHL Champions Mettalurg Magnitogorsk

“Because it’s the Cup!”

- Robert Slavinsky

You can Follow Robert Via Twitter @RSlavi_HTPens

Robert Slavinsky

Pittsburgh Penguins writer for hockeytracker.net. Since my childhood I have followed hockey, from the years of The Great One up to The Next One I have followed the fastest sport on ice. Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I have had the privilege to witness some of Hockey's Greats. Since the days of Le Magnifique no other team in Pittsburgh has mattered to me but the Penguins.

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