Penguins – Rangers Part IV?
The New York Rangers pushed their winning streak to six games with a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night. With the win, New York, Columbus and Pittsburgh all sit with 75 points entering Tuesday’s action.
Throwing out what the point totals might say, what most coaches and scouts all seem to be in agreement of — the Eastern Conference is the Washington Capitals/Pittsburgh Penguins and then everyone else. —
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) February 14, 2017
The Rangers best path for a deep playoff run is surely going to be earning the top wild-card and going through the Atlantic.
The Penguins internally believe the Rangers pose a slightly tougher matchup this season than last but there’s only one team they worry about right now and it’s the Washington Capitals. In Washington, it’s likely the same thing.
Those two organizations believe they’re on a collision course once again and whoever comes out, likely represents the Eastern Conference.
Two months to still go but (if the playoffs started today) I polled three scouts on the more favorable matchup for the Penguins in a second-third place first round series.
It was unanimous: 3-0 Columbus as the easier matchup for the Penguins.
The Blue Jackets do give the Penguins personnel some problems in how they’re built to go with their style, but Columbus doesn’t have many believers that they can be a threat to the Penguins.
“Columbus is a year away,” one scout said of being a legit threat to knock off the Penguins. “Still a team in a learning process. New York knows how to win and you always have to be aware of that [come playoff time].”
“They [Columbus] rely so much on ‘Bob’ and I don’t trust him,” said another scout of Sergei Bobrovsky. “Rangers [this season] are less reliant on Hank needing to be great.”
A third scout: “Pittsburgh’s center depth would overwhelm Columbus. Would be over in five.”
Were the Penguins and Rangers to meet again for the fourth straight post-season, the Achilles Heel for the Rangers in beating the Penguins four times is Henrik Lundqvist is not the Lundqvist from a couple years ago and the Penguins would still pose a number of problems to a suspect Rangers blueline like they did in Games 3-5 last spring.
But, what scouts contend, is to beat the Penguins over a seven game series, you have to look at teams that are fast but most importantly ‘explosive’ offensively Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"