Feb 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) skates with the puck ahead of New York Rangers center Brad Richards (19) during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
#1 Pittsburg Penguins (51-24-7 109 pts) vs #2 New York Rangers (45-31-6 96 pts) Season Series– Tied at 2 games apiece. Each won on home ice and each won on the road in a shootout. Series Schedule
* Denotes if neccessary
The Penguins finished off the Blue Jackets on Monday in 6 games during the 1st round and are coming off several days of rest. Expect them to be rested and anxious to take on the New York Rangers. With scoring during the 1st round coming from mainly everyone but the superstars, expect them to be a bigger part of this round. For the Penguins this isn’t really a bad thing, it shows their offensive depth since they were able to defeat the Blue Jackets without a ton of production from the top players. The Penguins do need to focus on their shaky defense which seemed to give up large leads and aided the Blue Jackets in tying up the series 2-2 at one point.
Leading Scorer-Sidney Crosby- 36 goals 68 assists 104 points
Backstop– Marc-Andre Fleury – Record: 39-18-5 SV%: .915 GAA: 2.37
X Factor– Evgeni Malkin – He didn’t notch a goal until Game 6, where he scored 3 for a hat trick. Now that his stick has come to life expect Sidney Crosby to not be far behind him.
Ex Blackhawk Factor– None
New York Rangers
The Rangers on the other hand are coming off of a long drawn out series that went back and forth the entire time. Expect the Rangers to be a little fatigued after playing Game 6 and 7 back to back vs. the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday and Wednesday night. Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard were quiet during the first 6 games of the playoffs but set up some nice plays that lead to scores in Game 7. We should expect them to pick up their production in Round 2 also. If they can’t then the Rangers will have a hard time matching the Penguins scoring depth. The one advantage the Rangers do seem to have going for them is their lights out defensive pairing of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Expect them to be focused on containing Crosby and Malkin anytime they are on the ice.
Leading Scorer– Rick Nash- 15 goals 34 assists-49 points
Backstop– Henrik Lundqvist – Record: 33-24-5 SV%: .920 GAA: 2.36
X-Factor– Martin St. Louis – Picked up at the trade deadline, many questioned how much the 39 year-old had left in the tank in order to help the Rangers during a playoff push. He seemed to show everyone he still has it during the 1st round, totaling 2 goals and 4 assists.
Ex-Blackhawks Factor– Daniel Carcillo – He came up big in Game 7 with 2 goals in the 2nd period which helped them win the most important game of the series after sitting on the bench for 2 of the games.
Prediction – If the Penguins play the way they did vs. the Blue Jackets and the Rangers play the same as they did vs. the Flyers the Rangers will take the series in 7. However, if the top line for the Penguins gets firing on all cylinders and the others continue to produce they will be able to defeat the Rangers in 6 games. The Penguins seem to have the Rangers number as of now, having beat them the 4 previous times they have faced in the NHL Playoffs.
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