RANGERS 5 – PENGUINS 2
The New York Rangers (26-13-4, 56 pts) playing their third game in four days, jumped on the Penguins early and never looked back, winning a commanding 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-6, 58 pts) on Sunday afternoon.
The Rangers with the win move just two points behind the Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Just seconds into the game things went south for the Penguins as Rick Nash (27) scored 27 seconds in and Derrick Brassard scored minutes later as the Rangers quick strike ability put them ahead 2-0, 6:08 into the game. Pittsburgh never took the game back from the Rangers, despite a Sidney Crosby (15) power play goal at 15:08 of the first period to cut the Rangers lead to 2-1.
New York would dominate the second period and chase Marc Andre Fleury from the game on goals from Rick Nash (28) and Derrick Stepan (7).
David Perron (10) scored 4:16 into the third period, his 5th goal in a Penguins uniform, but as the Rangers did all game, they came right back to kill any momentum the Penguins gained from the Perron goal and Derek Stepan (8) added his second goal of the game, a 1:59 later to push the Rangers lead to 5-2.
PENGUINS MENTALLY DOUBT THEY CAN BEAT THE RANGERS LIKE THE FLYERS IN THE PAST?
The New York Rangers are a very good team, plain and simple. What the Rangers don’t get is enough credit because they don’t put up huge regular season point totals like the Penguins do year after year.
However, as stated in previous articles, the Rangers are built from the goaltending out and built to win in the playoffs as they’ve shown in the past, advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, second round and Stanley Cup final the last three seasons.
New York is now 6-1 in their last seven games vs Penguins and there’s been some concerns inside the Penguins organization even prior to this game that the Penguins mentally fear the Rangers like the Penguins did against the Flyers the last couple seasons when the Flyers were competitive.
On the flip side, the Rangers have no fear of the Penguins and play like it, similar to how the Flyers play the Penguins.
The Penguins are a different team this year, a bit deeper upfront and playing a different system that has it’s positives and negatives, but New York has given them similar problems all season that they did last year. Alain Vigneault has been a perfect fit for the Rangers at the perfect time but the lasting impression John Tortorella left with this group is how the Rangers box out in front of the net and collapse to the middle in getting their bodies in front of shots.
Today they were excellent in those areas and offensively the Penguins didn’t do enough mucking and grinding, showing an unwillingness to get to the net on rebounds and get the puck deep to make things difficult on the Rangers group of defensemen.
Other red flags for the Penguins today was defending the Rangers speed from the left side and the Rangers easily being able to create net-front traffic. The Penguins had absolutely no answers for Chris Kreider in front and personnel wise, it’s been no secret that’s an area the Penguins can be exploited.
Lots of talk of the Penguins still coveting another top-9 forward and they are, but is this current group of defensemen good enough to win a Cup? A big bodied defenseman like Marc Methot could make a lot of sense for them but the Penguins don’t have cap space to address both needs.
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