Game Thread

Game 64: Tough stretch run begins in Pittsburgh

new-york-rangers-vs-pittsburgh-rangers-stanley-cup-playoffs-2014-game-1
Just trollin’ along

While the Rangers may more or less be a lock for the playoffs at this point, there are still critical games to be played this season that will have an impact on seeding. Tonight is one of those critical games in Pittsburgh, as it is a four-point swing game to potentially avoid the Caps in the first round. And no one wants them in the first round.

The Pens aren’t the disaster they were to start the season, filling out their top-heavy roster nicely with some good complimentary pieces. However they still aren’t a deep team, as their bottom-six are weak and Carl Hagelin probably doesn’t belong in a top-six role. The Rangers prey on teams that aren’t deep, so hopefully this is a solid matchup for them, even if the Pens are playing much better hockey of late.

Penguins Systems

Under Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh has gotten more aggressive in all facets of the game. They’ve switched back to a 2-1-2 forecheck and look to pursue the puck, rather than play the contain game in the neutral zone. On defense, they play zone and try to defend in layers. All in all, very similar to how Torts coached the Rangers.

Penguins Lines

Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin-Evgeni Malkin-Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson-Nick Bonino-Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl-Matt Cullen-Kevin Porter

Olli Maata-Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin-Trevor Daley
Derrick Pouliot-Ian Cole

PP1: Crosby-Malkin-Kessel-Hornqvist-Letang
PP2: Kunitz-Bonino-Wilson-Daley-Pouliot

PK: Crosby, Hagelin, Cullen, Porter, Kuhnhackl, Dumoulin, Lovejoy, Letang, Daley, Pouliot

Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Chris KreiderDerek Stepan–Mats Zuccarello
JT MillerDerick BrassardJesper Fast
Viktor Stalberg–Eric StaalKevin Hayes
Oscar Lindberg–Dominic MooreTanner Glass

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Keith YandleKevin Klein
Dan Boyle-Dylan McIlrath

PP1: Yandle-Klein-Miller-Hayes-Fast
PP2: Zucc-Boyle-Kreider-Stepan-Brassard

PK: Stepan, Moore, Lindberg, Fast, Glass, McDonagh, Staal, Klein, Girardi

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Scratches/Injuries: Rick Nash (leg), Marc Staal (flu)

Crazy Prediction: Crosby and Malkin are held pointless.

Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 7pm on MSG. All gifs will be on nyrgifs.com.

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  • I though Jesper Fast wasn’t traveling with the team – did they change their mind, or is that just a typo?

  • There was a report earlier today that he was skating with the scratches so at some point he got himself to Pittsburgh.

    Hope he is playing.

  • Lots of surprises today. Fast made the trip after all and is playing. But the bad news is the flu bug seems to be moving around the team somewhat, and Marc Staal is out tonight. McIlrath will play, paired with Boyle.

    And Nash skated, had a real good session apparently. Just has to get his conditioning back. Assuming no setbacks, 10-14 days.

    • Poor Dan — playing on his off side with a weak partner. I am guessing that
      the Rangers will try to use two pairs as much as possible.

      Have fun, thumbs downers

        • I’m just glad that McIlrath’s Minions will have a built-in excuse if the kid has another so-so game. 🙂

          • Yeah Eddie, Mcllrath had 8 hits, took out the Penguin player with a clean hit. 8 hits, more than the total amount of the rest of the D corp ( COMBINED!! ) . One of the few players on this team with a set of Steel Bal**, He should be playing every night!

          • I was just kidding Bobby….but I forgot, it’s blasphemy to even jest about our savior.

            Now, I do want to to tell you, I have a very good friend who works at MSG Networks. He told me, and this is an exclusive piece of information that no one knows about yet…..MSG is launching the DMC Network….all McIlath, all the time. We will get to see what the kid eats for breakfast, what kind of toothpaste he uses…does he brush his teeth up and down or side to side…..what streets he drives on when he goes to the Garden….his favorite TV shows and movies…..and during games, a camera focused in his every move on and off the ice. And much, much more!

            Don’t tell anyone I told you this.,,,but it’s coming soon. 🙂

  • Do these guys get the flu shot? They should. Always loved the 2-1-2 forecheck rather than the passive 1-2-2 because it’s proactive not reactive.

  • Message to AD….I responded to you on our “debate” back on the “trade fallout” thread from yesterday.

    • My only reply to the concept that the Dolans are somehow responsible to shareholders can be this: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

      Advertisers have a better chance of influencing the Dolans than the board or shareholders. Ticket takers have more influence, as do off duty cops.

      Dual class share structure means Jimmy Dolan is untouchable barring a breach of fiduciary responsibility. And if they can’t get him for what’s happened to the Knicks, fugghedaboutit.

      • When did I say Dolan wasn’t untouchable? I never suggested Dolan’s job could be on the line. I think you misunderstood my point. I was simply saying that the GM and President of the team are not going to willfully flush an opportunity to, for the third straight year, to go deep into the playoffs, given the revenue generated for such a journey….especially given their current position in the standings.

    • Eddie, thanks for the reply in the “old” post. You didn’t need to and you clearly gave it some thought, so much appreciated.

      Let’s “tap our gloves” and move forward. I think we could discuss a number of finer points at length and as much as I’d like to do that in person, I think we are at the point where further lengthy posts may be counter-productive.

      That ok?

      Thanks again pal.

  • Seventeen hits in period one!!!!! We are playing with intensity. Fast has three hits. Very under appreciated aspect of his play. He’s not big but he plays big.

  • The evidence keeps mounting that the Rangers won’t win the Cup with Girardi and Staal playing prominent minutes.

  • Too involved with politics tonight to watch much, but watching the updates on my phone was depressing. I did see the McIlrath hit…wow! Impressive.

    Without seeing a thing other then the goal highlights, it’s just disturbing to me that, when we do have a few bounces not go our way, we just can’t finish on scoring chances to make up the difference….its been our core problem for years. If Hank isn’t near perfect and/or the defense isn’t effective enough, we rarely have a chance to win against quality opposition. Again, maybe the game unfolded differently then the way it looked on the phone, but every so often, our forwards have to put the game on their shoulders, and they just don’t do it nearly enough. It’s what killed us vs TB last year. That’s has to change for us to have any chance.

    • I hope I am wrong but I’ve felt most of the season we’ve reverted back to relying upon Hank to a degree not seen since the 2010-2011 season under Tortorella. I am not aware of any way to objectively assess or verify this; it’s a qualitative observation.

      • I think, sadly, you are on to something here. And unfortunately, our defense isn’t what it was even last year. The burden on Hank all too often is ridiculous.

        Now, I also think that once Nash gets back and in a groove, and once E-Staal gets acclimated, it will have a trickle down effect that will solve many of these issues. That’s my hope anyway.

        • I am afraid you guys are right. Hank has been hung out to dry a lot this season, especially lately. It is going to wear him out and, I think he was feeling perhaps feeling the frustration tonight. Not like him to lose it.

  • predictions that Sid and Geno wouldn’t score didn’t hold up after Kreids scored and even Kessel got in the act after being named on the second tier of the world cup for team usa. tonight doesn’t get any easier as they play the caps and Ovi.

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