Penguins @ Rangers
Madison Square Garden, 7:30 Tuesday
Rangers record: 29-20-3
Penguins record: 31-15-4
Tomorrow night the Rangers return to action against the
Pittsburgh Penguins, and boy are the Blueshirts catching Pittsburgh at a good time.
Sidney Crosby isn’t yet close to a return from his
concussion, and Evgeni Malkin won’t play tomorrow either, meaning the Rangers
will face a woefully shorthanded Penguins squad. Not that the Rangers feel pity, after all
they’ve been banged up for two months. But the roster the Penguins will ice tomorrow night shouldn’t be too
intimidating. Without Malkin and Crosby,
Chris Kunitz is the Penguins best offensive threat. That means the Penguins may not be able to
score much, and they’ll have to count on Marc-Andre Fleury who has been
tremendous of late in goal. The Penguins
defense, led by Kris Letang, is deep and talented. Along with Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, and
Letang; Brooks Orpik, Alex Goligoski, Paul Martin, and Zbynek Michael form the
backbone of the Penguins. They’ll have
to be at the top of their games tomorrow night without much offensive help.
The Rangers have gotten lucky with timing against the
Penguins, but the Blueshirts haven’t been intimidated by the Penguins even when
they were healthy this year. Two big
wins against Pittsburgh
earlier in the season should give the Rangers plenty of confidence going into
this match up, confidence that will only be aided by the returns of Ryan
Callahan and Dan Girardi, and possibly even Brandon Dubinsky. Over the next week or so the Rangers should
return to nearly full health, and no one has been missed more than Callahan. The Rangers treaded water without him, but
he’s the heart and soul of the team and will be a huge reinvigorator for the
team post-All-Star break.
The Rangers could struggle from rust and lineup changes
tomorrow night, but if they play a simple, hard fore-checking game, this should
be an attainable two points. The Rangers
did a great job weathering the storm of injuries, and starting the second half
with a win would be a very good piece to build on for the Blueshirts.
I'm going to wait on posting my first half report card until all the polls are completed (on your left). I'd like to include your votes, and we've only got a few players left to grade.
Head over to BB+ to see how I'd handle the lines once everyone returns