The Rangers will face the Penguins in Madison Square Garden on Thurday night. Both teams are coming off losses; New York 3-2 to the Islanders and Pittsburgh a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia. Both teams have identical records at 7-7-1 and the winner will jump to second place in the division while the loser remains in fourth.
The Penguins have turned up the offense recently with Crosby racking up 4 points in a 5-0 win on Monday over the Devils. On Wednesday, the Penguins were (not surprisingly) stifled by the Flyers goalie Marty Biron who has played well for the entire season. It was a tough game and they will have to grind it out in back-to-back games. However, Fleury hasnt played since Saturday and should be more rested than his teammates.
Against the Rangers they will face an equally hot goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist who has 4 shutouts in 15 games and has only given up more than 2 goals in 4 of those contests. The Rangers have also played strong team defense and not allowed good angle shots to reach Lundqvist. This will be a test for the Penguins to see if they can break through the defensive wall that the Rangers have put up this season.
The determining factor in this game will be the Rangers offense as Pittsburgh will likely net 1-3 goals and force the Rangers to produce offensively. It is important for the Rangers to break out of the offensive slump as soon as possible, so why not against a division rival.
In the last meeting between the two teams, the Rangers shut out the Penguins but it will be tougher with this high-powered offense finally coming around. I see this going to a shootout at 2-2 and the Rangers and experienced Lundqvist pulling through.
Ill be writing my analysis as soon as the score is final.