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Rangers looking to capitalize on home ice advantage against Pittsburgh

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs penguins game 1 faceoff 4-16

The Rangers and the Penguins will meet again at MSG tonight, with New York looking to capture a 2-0 series lead. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins will meet again tonight in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, with the Rangers trying to take advantage of home ice and capture a two games to none series lead.

The Rangers are coming off of a 2-1 win in Game One, jumping out to a lead just 28 seconds into the game and never looking back. The opening goal from Derick Brassard, a power play goal from Ryan McDonagh, and some quality defense and goaltending was the difference maker for New York.

This represents a very important game for the Rangers. In past years, the Rangers have been unable to close out series early, often letting teams hang around and let series go on longer than they should have. If New York wants to contend again this year, they need to learn to start finishing some of the early rounds as soon as possible. A two games to none lead would be absolutely huge for New York.

The Penguins were completely outplayed in the first period on Thursday, but battled back to make things interesting. However, they only got 25 shots on goal, and not a lot of high quality chances. The Rangers had 38 shots on goal, making Marc-Andre Fleury work much harder.

Fleury played very well for the Penguins on Thursday, stopping 36 shots and really keeping the Penguins in the game. While he has had his fair share of postseason struggles in the past, Fleury is completely capable of stealing games away, and he nearly did on Thursday.

The rest of the Penguins lineup will remain the same, meaning that Taylor Chorney and Brian Dumoulin will remain in the lineup on defense. Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot both were on the ice for the morning skate, but remain day-to-day and will not play tonight.

Evgeni Malkin is a player to watch out for again. While the Rangers did a fantastic job of making Crosby practically invisible, Malkin made his presence on the ice felt, despite not denting the scoresheet. I said it before, and Malkin is completely capable of taking over a game at will. The likes of Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal will really need to keep him in check tonight.

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in the crease for the Rangers following a solid outing in Game One. Although he did not have to make a ton saves, Lundqvist was sharp at times and deserving of the win. The Penguins will surely pour it on tonight, so Henrik must be at his best.

Derick Brassard has been a clutch playoff performer ever since he was acquired from Columbus by the Rangers. Since the start of the 2013 playoffs, Brassard leads all Rangers in playoff points (25), and he has recorded 10 points (6-4-10) in his last 13 playoff games dating back to last year’s series against the Penguins. This season, Brassard has a point in all five games against the Penguins, with three goals and three assists in those games. He has been a clutch playoff performer for New York, and will be a key player for the Rangers again tonight.

derick brassard 4-16

Derick Brassard has been the Rangers’ best playoff performer over the last three seasons, continuing that trend on Thursday with the opening goal. He will be an impact player again tonight. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Ryan McDonagh is another guy who seems to step up when the team needs him most, scoring his first career game winning playoff goal in Game One. He also recorded four shots on goal, and was a plus one in 25:36 of ice time. McDonagh has tallied 18 points (5-13-18) in his last 16 playoff games, a streak that dates back to Game Four against the Penguins last year. The captain also has nine points (2-7-9) in his last nine regular season and playoff games this year.

The youngsters performed quite well on Thursday, with both Kevin Hayes and JT Miller playing solid games. Hayes looked a bit jumpy at first, but settled in nicely and had a few great shifts on the third line with Hagelin and St. Louis. With the first playoff game out of the way, I think Hayes and Miller will both have a big impact tonight. They’re very important depth players for the Rangers, and their performance can be crucial.

kevin hayes 4-16

Now that Kevin Hayes has gotten the first playoff game out of the way, I think he will settle in nicely and have a solid Game Two. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers will need to play better tonight, as the Penguins will certainly be pressing extremely hard for a win. There will be a lot of hitting and aggressive play, lots of shots, and a tougher challenge. The Rangers appeared to play laid back late in the game, something they cannot do again tonight. Never stop pressing.

The Rangers and the Penguins will face off at Madison Square Garden at 8:25 PM. The game will be broadcasted on NBC.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on April 18, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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