Ryane Clowe scored twice and added an assist, and Derrick Brassard had four points as New York Rangers (18-15-3, 39 pts) newest additions made an immediate impact, leading the Rangers to a 6-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins (28-10-0, 56 pts) on Wednesday night at MSG.
The Rangers dominated play from the start against an uninspired Penguins team that looked like they didn’t want to be there from the drop of the puck. The Penguins had no compete level in their game and couldn’t stop the Rangers woeful power play that went 3-of-4 on the night.
This was a tough game for the Penguins coming off a long winning streak in back to back situations against a desperate team that really needed this game, but the Penguins lack of compete level was just pathetic and inexcusable.
Clowe and Brassard combined for seven points in the win as the new look Rangers are now built for John Tortorella hockey, playing a gritty game where they wear down teams. For one night everything clicked.
Brian Boyle had a goal, three assists, and Brad Richards added two assists in the win. Defenseman John Moore just acquired in the Marian Gaborik trade also scored. Henrik Lundqvist was rarely tested making 26 saves in the win.
Clowe who had been mocked for having no goals going into tonight’s game, showed the type of impact he can have and he made his presence felt on the first shift of the game delivering a hard hit on Deryk Engelland on the forecheck as the Rangers came in with a gameplan to be extremely aggressive on the forecheck and the Rangers stuck to that game plan.
For the Penguins, Pascal Dupuis (18) scored the lone goal in the loss, putting home a Robert Bortuzzo rebound 2:27 into the second period. Dupuis 18 goals are tied for 5th in the NHL and his 16 even strength goals rank second in the NHL.
Marc Andre Fleury made 33 saves on 39 shots in the loss.
IS THIS A GAME TO WRITE OFF OR NOT?
You could look at this game and write it off saying the Penguins didn’t have Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Paul Martin, and almost always teams have let downs suddenly after long winning streaks.
That is true and there’s no reason to panic but here’s a few things that standout for me:
*The Penguins no question played over their head a bit defensively during the bulk of their winning streak, giving up just nine goals in their previous 11 games prior to last night’s game vs Buffalo. This is not a great defensive team and whether the Penguins are at full strength or not, they have issues in defending in transition where teams spread them out.
That plays into the Penguins struggles to identify open players in the defensive zone. Of note tonight, the Penguins wingers struggled mightily in identifying the Rangers d-men jumping up into the slot in open spots when the Rangers were establishing an cycle. There’s some tape from tonight that other teams are going to take away on how to attack the Penguins. You can bet on that.
*Another thing that is raising some concerns from evaluators and analyst I’ve heard from is that the Penguins are a slower team with Iginla, Morrow and Douglas Murray. Penguin management by the way strongly refutes that.
The Penguins previous two meetings against Rangers, the Penguins were the far superior team in the skating department and New York just couldn’t skate with them. Yes, the Penguins were missing two of their best skaters in Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby but this is something to watch.