Penguins – Rangers Fallout
The Pittsburgh Penguins looked a bit more like the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight.
Despite being out-attempted over the entire game in 5-on-5 play, 54-to-48, Pittsburgh used their speed game and were very effective at getting the Rangers to run around defensively that led to a number of Grade-A chances in the first period and early in the second period.
A good example of that……the New York Rangers came out with an 8-1 advantage in shots to start the game and then the Penguins flipped the script in outshooting New York 14-1 to end the first period and that momentum carried over into the second period when Jake Guentzel scored 39 seconds in and Sidney Crosby scored 10:07 later.
Pittsburgh peppered Lundqvist in the period and Lundqvist had to be great in the first 30 minutes of the game or this one was going to look like Games 4 and 5 of last year’s playoff series.
The Rangers, though, did a good job in this game by being the better overall possession team that played a part in them being able to rally and force overtime when down 3-1. That’s a much better strength for them this season in being able to drive play to go with a quick strike ability.
What’s holding the Rangers back who have lost eight straight at MSG, is the personnel on the blueline, especially against speed teams like the Penguins, and Henrik Lundqvist no longer the Lundqvist of old that has them in that second tier in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers, though, have to be ecstatic they’ll get to go through the Atlantic Division. If we see a Penguins – Rangers Round 4 this post-season, it will be in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Penguins get a depth chart jolt
The addition of a first line winger in Jake Guentzel and defenseman Ron Hainsey on the backend, provided that depth chart jolt the Penguins have kind of been lacking lately.
If Kris Letang is not back for the start of the playoffs, Brian Dumoulin – Ron Hainsey is the Penguins top pairing. It’s important those two get more time together if Letang’s not ready.
Tonight the Dumoulin – Hainsey pairing got the top-line matchups, that opened up for Justin Schultz and Ian Cole to be reunited and get better matchups.
Schultz was on the ice for a team-high 27 shot attempts (55 CF%), while Cole who had a primary assist on Bryan Rust’ goal, was at 60% in Shot Attempts For Percentage (25/17).
The trickle down effect was Chad Ruhwedel playing 15:24 tonight when he was getting 20+ minutes a night the previous five games he’s appeared in.
Everyone knows how important it is for the Penguins ability to repeat in eventually getting Kris Letang back but at least to start the playoffs in Round 1, it’s important that one of the three, Letang, Olli Maatta, or Trevor Daley are at least ready to play.
Murray starting to get groove back?
— I’m sure some are going to nitpick Matt Murray’s play to an extent due to the late period goals the Penguins gave up but this is now three out of four starts where he’s looked like himself again.
The 2-on-0 breakaway save in overtime was something else but the key from Murray was the calmness in goal he played with in eyeing up shooters and that’s when he’s at his best.
“I thought he was real good,” Mike Sullivan said. “He had that calm demeanor about him…..and that’s when Matt’s at his best.” Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"