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Insider Only Penguins are faster but a red flag in way Pens are built remains in matching up against likes of Capitals, Rangers

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RANGERS BOXING OUT IN FRONT CONTINUES TO CAUSE PENGUINS TROUBLE

The Penguins were missing Evgeni Malkin and a couple bottom-6 players Wednesday night, the Rangers were missing their two best players, Rick Nash who scored 42 goals last season and their No. 1 shutdown defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Neither team was obviously at full strength.

The Penguins can hang their hat on out-shooting and out-chancing the Rangers without Evgeni Malkin, while the Rangers can hang their hat on even without McDonagh, one of the NHL’s best shutdown defenders, they continued to succeed in shutting down the Penguins top players the same way they always do as Sidney Crosby was the only Penguin forward without a shot.

“I thought for the most part, we played their top players well,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We made sure we had back pressure. We made sure we had numbers.”

The Rangers got an exceptional game from defenseman Keith Yandle as Crosby was on the ice for just 4 shot attempts for and 10 against when on the ice vs Yandle 5-on-5.

How this game played out is how games often go with the Penguins and Rangers. Pittsburgh outshoots New York and is the stronger possession team but the Rangers are effective at keeping Pittsburgh to the outside and offensively are the most opportunistic team in putting high quality scoring chances in the back of the Penguins net.

“Yes, they [Pittsburgh] probably got a lot of shot attempts, but we were keeping it to the outside, and when they go on the inside, Hank made some real big saves for us,” said Vigneault.

The Penguins have been so good lately of having a strong push in the third period when trailing. That never played out Wednesday night.

Rangers scribes say that last night was one of the rare times the Rangers looked like the Rangers of the last two years.

Pittsburgh is a faster team than a year ago to combat with the Rangers speed down the wings, that was a problem for them in the past, but to make a deep run this season the Penguins are likely going to have to go through the Rangers and Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.

What the Rangers and Capitals have so much in common is not just the elite goaltending that is concerning for the Penguins. Both teams are so good at jamming and boxing out in front of the net defensively, type of defensive teams the Penguins struggle to score goals against.

The Penguins have a ways to go in proving they can finish against the likes of the Rangers, Capitals.

“They jam the front of the net, so it’s hard to score goals,” Kris Letang said of the Rangers. They block shots. Their goalie is an outstanding goalie.”

A lot different than beating up on a Craig Anderson or an inexperienced netminder like John Gibson.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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