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Where do you see the Rangers this season?

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There are no significant injuries to report
 
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SEPTEMBER 24TH, 2014
CAPTION THIS
Read the submissions so far and see if you can come up with the best caption for today's photo

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RUMOR MILL

Tuesday - October 25th

Either Josh Jooris (New York Daily News) or Dylan McIlrath are likely to find themselves on waivers when Pavel Buchnevich returns from back spasms.

The team is expected to cut the roster down to 22 players, and as such one of the two will need to be either moved or sent down.

  MORE RUMORS...

Question Of The Day

September 29th, 2017

How many rostered players were on the ice for opening night 2016-17

Answer...
  BIRTHDAYS

Albert LeDuc - 1902
Bert Marshall - 1943

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  RANDOM RANGER

ALF PIKE
(1939-1947)
  Born: Sep 15 - 1917  
  Pos: LW/C  
  GP: 234  
  G: 42  
  A: 77  
  Pts: 119  
  PIMs: 145  
 

Penguin On The Menu
Posted by Toby Ivey ≡ - April 22, 2008

Since the Penguins came into the league back in 1967-68, the two teams have met in the finals just three times. In each of those three series, the Penguins have come out victors, winning in 1989 4-0, again in 1992 4-2 on the way to their second Stanley Cup and again in 1996 by the tune of 4-1.

Only one player still in the NHL played in both those series, and ironically enough he now plays for the Rangers. Jaromir Jagr played in 1992 as a rookie, and teamed up with Mario Lemieux in 1996 to get 19 points between the two of them in just five games.

Things are a little bit different now of course. The Rangers are unlikely to see anyone on the team score to that extent, but it does provide an extra level of interest to a series that pits the likes of Brendan Shanahan and Jagr against the young guns of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

To say the Penguins have offensive ability is an understatement. With Marian Hossa added in a draft day deal, the Penguins boast one player with more than 100 points (Malkin - 106) in the regular season, and a total of six players with 50 or more (Crosby - 72, Hossa - 66, Gonchar - 65, Sykora - 63 and Malone - 51). By contrast the Rangers have just three (Jagr - 71, Gomez - 70 and Drury - 58). The Penguins finished with the 4th best (20.4%) power play in the league, the Rangers the 22nd (16.5%). The offenses were 7th (PIT - 2.93) and 25th (NYR - 2.50) respectively.

If there's one perceived weakness that the Penguins have had this season, it's been their defense and goaltending, however they did manage to tighten that up in the latter part of the season, and ended up finishing 10th in the league with just a 2.58 goals against average (the Rangers finished 4th with a 2.32 GAA).

The season series between the teams was close too with the Rangers getting a slight 5-3 advantage...two of those wins coming in overtime:
Oct 23rd - at Pittsburgh - PIT 1-0
Nov 8th - at New York - NYR 4-2
Nov 17th - at Pittsburgh - NYR 4-3 OT
Dec 18th - at New York - NYR 4-0
Jan 14th - at Pittsburgh - PIT 4-1
Mar 18th - at New York - NYR 5-2
Mar 30th - at Pittsburgh - PIT 3-1
Mar 31st - at New York - NYR 2-1 OT

Looking at the teams on paper, it looks like a close match-up, though it's easy to give the Penguins the edge especially considering they'll get to play four of those games on their home ice, where the Rangers were 1-3 this season.

Jagr has already voiced concerns about playing in his former home rink, where the boos ring out whenever he touches the puck, and when you look at the Rangers' paltry scoring (just two goals in the three losses), you can understand why.

This will be a tough series my friends, and it will take a lot more effort and patience than the Devils series. The Penguins are able to transition to offense much more readily and their ability to score on the power play is second to few.

If there's one hope, it's that Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury might be someone the Rangers can get to. Fleury had a stellar series against the Senators, allowing just five goals in the four games on 112 shots (.955 Save% and 1.26 GAA). He also shutout the Senators in one of those games.

No, the much maligned Penguins defense and goaltending is perhaps more a reflection of what this team used to be, not what they are now.

In terms of Cup experience they have three Cup winners, and a total of six players who've been to the finals:
Ty Conklin - EDM 2006 (Lost)
Sergei Gonchar - WAS 1998 (Lost)
Georges Laraque - EDM 2006 (Lost)
Gary Roberts - CGY 1989
Petr Sykora - NJD 2000, NJD 2001 (Lost), ANA 2003 (Lost)
Darryl Sydor - DAL 1999, DAL 2000 (Lost)

Certainly they are much more prepared for a run this year than they were last season, when they were bundled out in the first round. This year the Penguins are perhaps the most dangerous team remaining in the East.

So what are the keys to the Rangers success?

Special teams are obviously a key area, and in particularly staying out of the box for the Rangers. The Blueshirts can ill-afford to let the Penguins get a man advantage, and if they do, they'll have to watch for the passes through the slot to the man on the back door, a specialty for Crosby.

At the other end of the ice, the Rangers need to take advantage of a so-so PK that finished in the bottom third of the league during the regular season. While the improved play of Marc-Andre Fleury since he came back from injury certainly will help the home team, the defense is still vulnerable.

Both teams will also have to watch for some rust in Game 1. With the Penguins enjoying a nine day respite, and the Rangers a full week, there's likely to be some defensive mistakes on both sides. The Rangers being on the road for Game 1, might be best served playing a little conservatively to start with and see where that takes them. Still forecheck with two forwards, but try and keep the third man high to help the defense and the blueliners will have to be wary of the breakout pass.

Physicality may also play a part in the series. While the Penguins are not the Flyers they do have Laraque and Orpik in the line-up, either of whom could send a Ranger to the lockerroom. By contrast the Rangers will have to avoid trying to take their frustrations out on Crosby (someone who thrives on drawing players) and perhaps focus more on Malkin, Sykora and Hossa...all of whom can be knocked off their game, with a well timed hit.

Neither goaltender has controlled their rebounds well this season, and there will be opportunity for both teams. Lundqvist needs to get a better handle on the puck, especially with his glove, while the Rangers need to be alert for Fleury's tendency to fight the puck at times and take that first shot to set up the rebound.

The Penguins will have the early advantage in the series, and it will be up to the Rangers to at least keep it close in Pittsburgh, and hopefully win one of the two games, and then hold serve in New York.

If you're like me, you can't hardly wait until Friday, but you may also harbor some fears of a match-up like this. All we can hope is that the Rangers go into the game with confidence, but with the knowledge that this will not be an easy series, and will need a complete 60 minutes to put this team away.


Profile of the Author:
Has been an active follower of the New York Rangers since the 1996-97 season. Began OutsideTheGarden.com in 2001, and has continued to collect data and provide analysis on the team through to the current day.

 Additional stories from Toby Ivey:


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