|G/PG||3.16 (1st)||2.82 (10th)|
|GA/PG||2.51 (12th)||2.57 (15th)|
|PP%||18.8% (t-13th)||23.8% (2nd)|
|PK%||83.7% (t-7th)||80.9% (t-16th)|
New York won 3-0-1
Nov. 11 – NYR 5 – 0 PIT
Nov. 15 – PIT 3 – 2 – NYR (SO)
Dec. 8 – NYR 4 – 3 PIT (OT)
Jan. 18 – NYR 5 – 2 PIT
This will be New York and Pittsburgh’s third playoff meeting since 2008. The Rangers defeated the Penguins in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, avenging their five-game loss to New York in 2008.
The Penguins nearly folded up like a lawn chair down the stretch, but were able to sneak into the postseason for the ninth consecutive season. So what do you get for just making the playoffs? Well the President Trophy winning Rangers is what you get.
Earlier in the season New York lost their starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist for nearly two months. Most teams would struggle mightily if they lost their number-1 net minder, but in came Cam Talbot to save the day. Now Lundqivst is back and playing like the goalie you would expect him to be—he won five of seven with a 2.28 GAA and .924 SV% to end the season.
King Henrik comes into the playoffs looking healthy and he will go head-to-head with Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s playoff struggles have been well documented. He has a career 2.68 GAA and .905 SV% in the playoffs while Lundqvist has strong postseason numbers having posted a 2.24 GAA and .922 SV% in 92 playoff starts.
A big reason why the Penguins had a rough go towards the end of the season was injuries. Evgeni Malkin missed eight games towards the end of the season and they’ve been without Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff and Olli Maatta, who are three of their top-5 defensemen. They might get Ehrhoff back at some point in this series, but when you take a look at the Rangers blue line, it won’t matter. The addition of Keith Yandle solidified a group that was strong enough to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season and have their eyes set on winning it this year. Ryan McDonagh led the way for New York last season, posting 17 points (4G / 13A) in 25 games.
Up front Sidney Crosby and the aforementioned Malkin are the great equalizers in this series, but the Rangers can go four lines deep, you can’t say the same about the Pens.
For the blue shirts, Rick Nash had a crazy good season, but this dude has never done anything in the playoffs. He has just five goals in 41 career playoff games. Brutal. Will this finally be the season he breaks through when it matters most? Only time will tell. Even if Nash falters (once again) in the playoffs, the Rangers have a ton of other capable scorers. One of which is Martin St. Louis, who has 83 points (41G / 42A) in 88 career playoff games.
For someone just looking at team names and going off of history this might look like a toss-up, but the Rangers are just too deep for the Penguins. Crosby can always be a difference maker, but in a seven-game series, I like the Rangers.
Series Prediction: Rangers in 5
Leading Scorer: Martin St. Louis
Series X-Factor: Marc-Andre Fleury
Other Eastern Conference Series Previews:
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