PENGUINS – RANGERS OFF-DAY BUZZ
Who’s in and who’s likely out for Game 1?
For the Penguins, things are moving in the direction where Christian Ehrhoff is a strong possibility to play in Game 1 or by Saturday night at the latest.
“He’s cleared for contact. First day he was cleared for [full] contact,” Mike Johnston said. “He’ll be day to day for now.”
Ehrhoff has gone though two straight practices with team, fully participating in all drills, including a grueling one today that resembled a training camp type atmosphere just two days before a playoff game.
At the end of practice the coaches put the players through wind sprints.
The question with Ehrhoff for weeks now has been how effective is he really going to be?
The concern with Ehrhoff since suffering his first concussion vs the Capitals in January is he played like a player who was scared to get hit, and it played a part in the hit he took from Tarasenko that led to concussion like symptoms for the third time in two months for Ehrhoff.
He’s going to have a bulls-eye on his back in this series.
Barring no setbacks from Ehrhoff, the Penguins pairings vs the Rangers Thursday night are expected to be:
Paul Martin – Ben Lovejoy
Rob Scuderi – Ian Cole
Christian Ehrhoff – Taylor Chorney
Chorney in the last two games graded out very well by the coaches and has the edge over Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington who are just bodies for now.
“Chorney definitely has the nod,” Johnston said.
Johnston said over the weekend that Derrick Pouliot would likely be ready for the playoffs but that might not be the case, at least not for Game 1. Pouliot remains off the ice.
KLEIN NOT READY TO RETURN
Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein won’t be ready for the start of the series after suffering a broken left arm on March 11. “He’s day-to-day,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Like everyone knows, a broken bone takes time to heal. We anticipated four to six [weeks]. We’re within that range. He’s been skating on his own, but he’s not quite ready yet.”
With Klein healthy the Rangers have the best group of defensemen in the Eastern Conference and his injury has put a player like Dan Boyle out of position in having to play a No. 2 pairing role.
Boyle at this stage of his career is a No. 6 defenseman at best and someone the Penguins could exploit.
RANGERS A THREAT SHORTHANDED
The Penguins gave up 11 shorthanded goals this season, 2nd most in NHL, the Rangers had 9 shorthanded goals on the season.
The Penguins are debating whether to use four or three forwards on the man advantage due to the danger the Rangers provide shorthanded. Bet on them starting with four forwards.
“We have a couple different looks,” Johnston said today. “Today we were working on four forwards, tomorrow we’ll work on both units with two defensemen. We know how they play shorthanded, we know some of their play dangerous players shorthanded.”
Rick Nash led the Rangers with four shorthanded goals and they will test the Penguins top unit that gets caught puck watching at times.
JOHNSTON ON SCOTT WILSON
Scott Wilson did not take a regular line rush with the top-4 lines but did get some work in with Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie on the third line for a few sequences.
“He gives up some depth,” Johnston said of Wilson. “Good two-way forward, can score, has a good stick.”
“But he also plays a gritty, playoff style game. He can create offensively, solid defensively, and he plays with some grit and compete to his game.”
Penguins lose Game 1, look for him to go in.