The Penguins are in town tonight to open the first of a home-and-home with the Rangers. The good news: No Crosby, they just lost, and they are playing the second of back-to-back games. The bad news: They are still really, really good, and got better by adding Brendan Morrow, Douglass Murray, and Jarome Iginla.
But these are the new look Rangers. Marian Gaborik is in Columbus. Ryane Clowe, Derek Brassard, Derek Dorset, and John Moore are in New York. Chris Kreider and JT Miller are in Connecticut. We don’t know what these new-look Rangers are capable of, but they can’t be any softer than the previous 2013 version.
The Pens play a 2-1-2 forecheck to pin the Rangers in their own zone, create turnovers, and capitalize. The Rangers will need to make good outlet passes to beat the pressure, which may be tough with such extreme roster turnover. In the defensive zone, the Penguins play a strong side overload or a low zone collapse, depending on puck location. They use these strategies to overwhelm the offensive players along the boards and create turnovers. If this doesn’t work (i.e.: The puck gets to the weak side point man), then the Pens shift to the low zone collapse and block shots.
On special teams, the Pens run an umbrella powerplay. Their powerplay is absolutely lethal, converting at 24.1% efficiency (4th in the league). But that penalty kill is the polar opposite, killing off penalties at a paltry 78.8% rate (24th in the league). The Pens also run a diamond penalty kill.
For more on Tortorella’s systems read here.
2012-2013 Records: Penguins (28-9-0), Rangers (17-15-3)
NYR Leading Scorer: Rick Nash (13-17-30)
PIT Leading Scorer: Chris Kunitz (20-25-45)
NYR Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (30 GP, 2.19 GAA, .922 SV%)
PIT Goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury (25 GP, 2.18 GAA, .920 SV%)
Broadcast Info: NBCSN, 7:30pm
Torts’ post-practice interview from Tuesday: