Game Thread

Game 27: Metro Division dogfight in Pittsburgh

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Update: The Rangers have recalled goalie Alex Georgiev from the AHL. Henrik Lundqvist is out with the flu.

The Rangers and Penguins are at it tonight in a big divisional matchup in a tight Metro Division. The Rangers need two points to stay within striking distance of both the Pens and the Caps. The Pens are also without Matt Murray, so there’s reason to believe this potent offense, even without Mika Zibanejad, could put up a few goals.

The Penguins are struggling to score, but they are still loaded up and down the lineup. Once this team’s luck changes, they are going to get goals in droves. They are still scary, and sooner or later their chances will go in the net. Hopefully it isn’t tonight.

Penguins Systems

The best part about facing the Penguins is that the Rangers faced themrecently in the playoffs. So I have a very detailed systems comparison between the two teams. Go check it out here.

If you don’t want to read it, here’s the long and short of it. Mike Sullivan has the Penguins running a 2-1-2 forecheck, much like Sully used to have when he was an assistant here under John Tortorella. The Penguins run a full zone in the defensive zone, overloading the boards and switching to a box+1 depending on puck location. On special teams, Sully runs a 1-3-1/umbrella hybrid powerplay and a full fledged zone hybrid (box, diamond, wedge+1) penalty kill.

For more details on hockey systems, check out our Systems page.

Penguins Lines:

Conor Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Jake Guentzel-Evgeni MalkinPhil Kessel
Carl Hagelin-Riley Sheahan-Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnackl-Carter Rowney-Ryan Reaves

Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maata-Matt Hunwick
Ian Cole-Justin Schultz

PP1: Crosby-Kessel-Malkin-Hornqvist-Letang
PP2: Sheary-Guentzel-Rust-Maata-Schultz

Tristan Jarry gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Chris Kreider–David Desharnais–Pavel Buchnevich
Jimmy VeseyKevin HayesRick Nash
Michael Grabner–JT Miller–Mats Zuccarello
Paul Carey-Boo Nieves-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Nick Holden
Brady Skjei–Kevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalBrendan Smith

PP1: Kreider-Zuccarello-Desharnais-Buchnevich-Shattenkirk
PP2: Nash-Miller-Vesey-Hayes-McDonagh

Ondrej Pavelec gets the start.

Scratches/Injuries: Mika Zibanejad (concussion), Steven Kampfer (healthy), Henrik Lundqvist (flu)

Crazy Prediction: Ten goals combined by both teams.

Game time is 7:30pm. Be sure to follow on Twitter for gifs, and on our Snapchat for in-game.

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    • I’m sure the Rangers will be quaking in their boots, just like the rest of the league undoubtedly has all season. I’m surprised the Pens aren’t undefeated. Maybe we should just forfeit—Ogie Oglethorpe is in the house!!!! 🙂

      • The guy has one goal, two assists this season. It’s to the Rangers advantage if Reaves is out there instead of Kessel, Malkin, Crosby…

          • No worries guys, I hear that AV was on a local radio show today and he placed a bounty on Reaves head. Carey called AV while he was taking a nap and accepted the challenge. 🙂

            Somehow, I think the Rangers will be much more concerned about Crosby, Malkin and Kessel than a goon who plays less than 7 minutes per game.

          • Triple E, always good to engage in conversation with you. Did you catch the highlights of the Caps vs the Sharks game last night?? It was all over NHL radio today. Tom Wilson ( rugged/ enforcer) engaged future hall of fame candidate Joe Thorton in a toe to toe battle . The uproar was that Wilson ( as a fighter, he has no code, he is a dirty player, most fighters fight other enforcers) went after a non-fighter ( who last fought in 2013) . Thorton had checked TJ Oshie earlier in the game, causing an injury, thus Wilson was looking for payback. Colton Orr was a guest on NHL radio, he made it perfectly clear that Wilson does what ever he feels like to the opposing teams more finesse players, because most teams no longer have a Wilson type on their roster! , No one to deliver payback! A player like McIIrath ( a serviceable 6th or 7th D-man who IMO is way better than Holden or Kamfer) could send a message back, like he did to Wayne Simmons for his concussion to McDonagh. So tonight its Reaves, tomorrow its Wilson, watch the tempo and aggressive play they bring to the ice, and watch how their teammates feed off it. Watch the Rangers take it and let the abuse go unchallenged!!

          • Eddie/Richter1994, GM of Penguins acquired Reaves because he said too many teams taking liberties with Crosby ( notice no concussions this year!!)

          • Colton Orr is as antiquated as your way of thinking.

            The guy has 6 minutes of ice time through 2 periods and was a waste of a 1st round pick for the Pens

          • Bobby, plenty of Rangers got clocked while Tanner was suited up, so it deters nothing my friend.

    • “of that work? Can Reaves actually provide that sort of protection?

      There is no doubt he will be willing to respond after the fact, because even though his fight totals have decreased in recent years he is still a willing heavyweight.

      The issue is whether or not he can stop even a little bit of the abuse toward his teammates by making opponents like Washington’s Tom Wilson or Columbus’ Brandon Dubinsky (two of the biggest thorns in the Penguins’ side) take notice.

      The easiest way to answer that now is to look at what sort of abuse the Blues — Reaves’ former team — took in recent years.

      It was a lot.

      Over the past four seasons the St. Louis Blues — Reaves’ former team — were on the receiving end of eight incidents that resulted in supplemental discipline from the NHL (suspension or fine), typically reserved for the dirtiest plays. The only team that was on the receiving end of more during that stretch was the Boston Bruins (10 –and keep in mind, this was a team that had Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic for most of those years).

      During one nine-day stretch in 2014 the Blues lost T.J. Oshie and David Backes to head shots. The two hits resulted in seven games in suspensions while Oshie and Backes both missed playoff games. Reaves was in the lineup both nights.

      The next season Minnesota’s Marco Scandella was fined for an illegal hit to the head on Oshie. Last year New Jersey’s Bobby Farnham was hit with a four-game ban for taking a late, cheap run at Dmitri Jaskin while Reaves was on the ice. There are also several other borderline hits that did not result in supplemental discipline (like this, and this, and this).

      This isn’t to suggest that Reaves is bad at his job or that he is somehow responsible for those plays.

      It is to point out that dirty stuff is still going to happen to star players whether he — or any player like him — is there or not.

      Players like Tom Wilson, and Brandon Dubinsky, and Bobby Farnham are paid a lot of money to rattle the cages of players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That is what they do. That is their role and they are going to do it whether there is a physical element in the other team’s lineup or not.

      The only thing that can stop it is a significant crackdown from the league to hand out harsher punishments when it happens.”

    • So, umm, Bobby, you were saying?

      Reaves was an non-factor, as expected. The Rangers weren’t intimated, as expected.

      As for the rest of your points my friend….you may have nailed every single one INCORRECTLY!

      1) Caps vs Sharks—Oshie got hurt in the game, did he not? So Wilson’s presence doesnt stop that. And if the Sharks had an enforcer, it would not have mattered because Wilson specifically wanted to take out Thornton for injuring Oshie. So, nothing would have been different most likely if the Sharks wasted a roster spot on someone who can only fight.

      2) Please stop making a fool out of yourself with the McIlrath nonsense. You still refuse to answer why every team has passed on this guy—three times! He’s a minor leaguer. He is not a 6D/7D option. If he was, someone would have claimed him. So if you are going to keep on with this nonsense, at least explain why he is not in the NHL.

      3) And even if he was, notice that the guys you salivate over (Wilson, Kane, Reaves) are forwards. Teams can afford to have a player like that at forward. If they drop the gloves, playing with 11Fs is no big deal. Having a guy who is nothing more than a physical presence on defense like McIlrath, if he drops the gloves, you are down to 5D. That’s not ideal. That is why I was fine with a guy like Glass. A guy like McIlrath is practically useless in today’s NHL.

      4) Explain how Wilson, Reaves or Kane can help a team win when it matters. You can’t because their playoff track records are pretty slim. That style of play doesn’t help you to win the Cup.

      5) Sidney Crosby had a minor concussion in the playoffs last year. Before that, he hadn’t had a concussion in the previous five seasons. What “enforcer” did the Pens have to prevent that? The answer. No one. Your are, as usual, totally overstating things.

      But, always fun to debate my friend.

      • Eddie, as always the debate was invigorating and inspiring. John b, you did your homework, well explained. I guess its me, a handful of current bloggers and the great Bret Hull, who when asked whats wrong with today’s game?? as opposed to when he was playing? The Golden Brett answered, the phasing out of the Enforcer role in the NHL. FAR TOO MANY CHEAP SHOTS, in today’s game!!

        • That’s true. But did you hear what happened after the game? The police pounded on the door of the Sabres locker room and said, “We want Kane!”, and they took him down to the station. Housley tried to convince the precinct captain that Kane is a folk hero and not a criminal, and then eventually put up the bail money himself, and threw in a Sabres key chain for good measure!

          You won’t read any of this in the mainstream press, but I have my sources on this. 🙂

  • Is this the only team in the league where you can go from healthy scratch to top line or top pair?

  • Without Lundqvist we are in deep trouble. Watch Hornqvist bang away in front. If we are soft in front, this will be a long night.

  • I love watching teams I root for play in games where no one on the planet expects the team I root for to win…Penquins must be great and I guess my Rangers should just forfeit !!!!!!!!!…….LETS GO RANGERS !!!!!!!!!!

  • Zuccy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!But……….But ……….we are supposed to be losing by 3 goals by now ?????????

  • This is just me ….But what a GREAT WIN by this Rangers team……Congrats to everybody involved…….LETS GO RANGERS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Did we win the game? I figured what’s the point of watching if Ryan Reaves would be out there abusing our guys all night long….right Bobby? 🙂

      • TRIPLE E, a great victory for our Rangers, Ryan Reaves was a non factor ( maybe he heard rumors the Rangers had interest in getting Evander Kane? 🙂 ??. I enjoy our debates, and respect your knowledge as well as your sarcasm , you do make me think twice and smile often 🙂 . Please elaborate on Bret Hull’s recent comments on what is wrong with today’s game , The Golden Bret recently said its the phasing out of the NHL enforcer, The NHL is becoming a league of CHEAPSHOTS, because their is no fear of retaliation.

  • Gutsy win, huge 2 points without Mika and Hank. Not perfect (defensively), but that was a strong showing. Gotta take those games now in December.


    • Hats off to Pavelec. 41 saves including 22 in the second period. We will need starts like that from him so we can rest Hank when needed

      • Most definitely Steve. Tremendous job by Pav under less than ideal circumstances for him. Should fill him with a lot off confidence.

        As Miller said in the post-game, this was a character win.

        How about that 4th line? Can we give a little love to our newest piñatas, Nieves and Carey? Do some of you still think we need to recall some Not Ready for Prime Time Players from Hartford? 🙂

        • A character win indeed my friend, 4th line had a great game. After giving up the first goal and then going down 2-1.. and fighting back to get a nice rebound cash in from Jesper and a squeaker thru Jarry’s pads, going up 3-2 and being grossly outshot in the 2nd period.. fought hard in the 3rd and got a great bounce off Letang.. and held on.. Pavs was the best I’ve seen him and hopefully he went out after the final horn and kissed the posts.. all in all a great win, and I’m confident going to D.C. next. We have to build character on the road, haven’t been away much to this point.. a win like tonight’s can send us on our way to being the road team we’ve been the past few seasons. LGR!!!

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