Penguins Game Day
When: November 15 2010 | Where: Consol Energy Center
The Penguins catch the New York Rangers on their second of back-to-back games Monday in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh enters the week on the strength of two nice wins over Tampa Bay and Atlanta, while the Rangers are coming off an 8-2 drubbing of the Edmonton Oilers. The teams are tied for second place in the Atlantic with 19 points. Monday’s game will be the first match this season between the division rivals.
NEW YORK RANGERS AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Despite near-identical records, neither team has met its expectations for the early season. New York is playing exceptionally well, given injuries to stars and preseason estimations. Pittsburgh is ambling along at one game above .500, though they’ve played well in two games since the Boston massacre.
9-7-1 (19 pts.)
2nd Atlantic, 4th East
4-5-1 Home, 5-2-0 Road
5-5-0 Last 10
9-8-1 (19 pts.)
3rd Atlantic, 6th East
3-5-0 Home, 6-3-1 Road
4-5-1 Last 10
The Penguins manhandled the Rangers last season, gaining points in all six games while going 5-0-1 overall. The Penguins outscored the Rangers 13-5 in a home and home in late November, and won their opening-night title defense 3-2 against the Rangers as well.
In six games last year, Pittsburgh outscored New York 27-16. According to the Penguins team website, Pittsburgh is now 16-5-7 against the Rangers in the last four regular seasons.
Pittsburgh has to like their chances of improving the 3-5-0 home record in the CONSOL Energy Center. New York hasn’t won a regulation game in Pittsburgh since January 2006. Since then, the Penguins are 12-0-3 in 15 games at home against the Rangers.
TEAM SCOUTING REPORT
Pittsburgh has improved its play in its last two games and the numbers are beginning to reflect that. The team is top-ten in the NHL in goals for and penalty kill.
The offense has stayed mostly steady this year. The Penguins have scored fewer than one goal only once this year, a 1-0 overtime decision in St. Louis. The team is 8th overall in goals per game (3.1), and has improved to 13th in goals against (2.7 per) after two solid performances over the weekend.
Special teams have remained about the same. The penalty kill has continued to improve all season, now ranking 4th in the NHL at 87.5 percent success. The power play has warmed up lately, scoring at a 20 percent clip over its last five games and at least once in four of the last five. In spite of that, the rank has continued to drop, 23rd in the NHL at 14.0 percent success.
The Rangers run neck and neck with the Penguins in most of those categories. New York is 7th in goals (3.1 per game) and 14th defensively (2.8 per). Their power play has fared slightly better at 18th overall (15.4 percent), but New York is 22nd on the penalty kill (79.4 percent).
Pittsburgh is averaging over 31 shots a game to New York’s 29, though the Pens are allowing four fewer shots against per game (27 to 31). Both teams average 17 PIM per game. Pittsburgh has three shorthanded goals to New York’s two, though the Rangers haven’t allowed a shorthanded goal against this season (Pittsburgh has two against).
PLAYER SCOUTING REPORT
Sidney Crosby continues his campaign for the NHL scoring lead. Crosby landed a goal and two assists Saturday in Atlanta. He is now second in the league in points (27 – one behind Steven Stamkos) and third with 12 goals (3 behind Stamkos). Crosby this afternoon was named the second NHL star of the week.
Crosby paces the Penguins in goals (12), assists (15), points (27) and power play goals (5).
Evgeni Malkin has played much better since moving back to the center position. Malkin has 4 goals and 3 assists since moving back to center against Phoenix. Malkin leads the team with 76 shots on goal.
Part of that improvement has to be credited to new line mates Matt Cooke and Arron Asham, neither of whom can be accused of being outworked by the likes of a Mike Comrie or Eric Tangradi.
Kris Letang is now tied with Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom for the league scoring lead amongst defensemen (17).
Brandon Dubinsky has been the Ranger’s top scorer this season. Dubinsky has 10 goals and 5 assists, and his 15 points lead the team. Dubinsky has only one assist in his last four games since scoring five goals in a three game stretch.
Ryan Callahan leads the team with 10 assists and 53 shots on goal.
Marian Gaborik, the Rangers’ top forward, has played only five games this season after separating his shoulder early on. Gaborik has played well in his return, landing a hat trick against Edmonton Sunday.
Deryk Engelland leads Pittsburgh with 40 PIM. Brandon Prust paces the Rangers with 57 PIM. Pittsburgh’s 20 fighting majors lead the NHL, while the Rangers are 7th with 16 fights.
Pittsburgh’s goalie snafu finally gained some clarity over the weekend. Marc-Andre Fleury posted wins in back to back games and will likely begin seeing the playing time he was expected to see moving forward.
Fleury stopped 46 of 49 shots in the Atlanta and Tampa games, improving his record to 3-6-0 and bringing his GAA down to 3.09 (.872 save percentage).
Fleury made a number of timely and impressive saves against the Thrashers, who had a number of good scoring chances against the Penguins. He is expected to start tonight against New York.
The Rangers have split their starts between Henrik Lundqvist and Atlantic Division journeyman Martin Biron. Lundqvist is 6-5-1 this year (2.68 – .918) with two shutouts. Biron is 3-2 in five starts (2.21 – .911).
Lundqvist is battling an illness but will get the start tonight against Pittsburgh. Neither Biron nor Lundqvist have fard against Pittsburgh in their career.
Biron has an ugly 4.24 GAA in his last four starts against Pittsburgh (with Philadelphia and NYI). Lundqvist has fared little better, going 2-8-1 in his last 11 at Pittsburgh (3.00 GAA in that span).
Lundqvist has two shutouts in his last five starts.
Jordan Staal is sidelined for the next four weeks with a broken hand.
Tyler Kennedy is out for tonight’s game due to the flu.
For the Rangers, Michal Roszival is out 7-10 days (shoulder). Chris Drury (broken finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee) are out indefinitely
Enforcer Derek Boogaard will miss tonight’s game due to a sore hand.
Pittsburgh posted a season-high 46 shots in the 7-4 loss at Boston (38 through the first two periods). Since then, the Penguins have landed 48 shots in their last two games, both wins.
Arron Asham has a goal and three assists in 9 games played with the Penguins this year. Three of Asham’s four points have come since being moved to Malkin’s wing on the second line.
The Pens’ penalty kill has now allowed only 2 goals in its last 34 outings, going a perfect 5-5 Saturday in Atlanta.
Former Penguins Ruslan Fedotenko has 3 goals and 6 assists with the Rangers this season and is a plus-5. Fedotenko was a team-worst minus-17 last season.
Penguins Projected Lineup
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Cooke – Malkin – Asham
Talbot – Letestu – Conner
Rupp – Adams – Comrie
Orpik – Letang
Martin – Michalek
Goligoski – Engelland
Starting Goaltender: Marc Andre Fleury