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To Stuff Some Birds
Penguins on the menu and can be beaten

Rick Nash (New York Rangers)

Rick Nash (New York Rangers)

Normally when it comes to hockey I respect the teams that the New York Rangers face but the Pittsburgh Penguins are not one of them. Over the years they in my mind have led the league in dirty cheap shots that have hurt other players and while most of them have been punished by the NHL there remains one who is protected from punishment because he gets pushed as one of the biggest faces in the NHL.

I am talking of course about Sidney Crosby who when he isn't diving or sucker punching his opposition is whining to the refs about how mistreated he is on the ice by that same opposition. Nothing is more disappointing than to see a talented player having to resort to cheating which when you strip everything away is what diving really is. If you can't trust your talent to win for you then something is wrong.

I am not going to sit here and blow smoke about how the Rangers should walk all over the Penguins because it is not true. The Rangers must play at a higher level than they did against the Philadelphia Flyers or this will be as Mike Milbury predicts a very short series.

I believe the Rangers can defeat the Penguins after watching what the Columbus Bluejackets did against them. If Pittsburgh coach Dan Blysma thinks that his team played their best 120 minutes in games 5 and 6 against the Bluejackets then he is kidding himself. The Bluejackets ran out of time in game 6 otherwise they would have forced a game 7.

To Win

It starts with defense as the Rangers will need to pull out their John Tortorella playbooks and continue to block shots and protect Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers don't want to get into a game of pond hockey with the Penguins because their offense just isn't firing on all cylinders.

It will be interesting to see who draws Crosby as I think the Rangers will use Dom Moore against him but I would like to see Dan Carcillo with Moore and Derek Dorsett. I just don't think Brian Boyle's skating would allow him to stay with any Crosby line especially if Evgeni Malkin is kept on the Crosby line.

If Crosby is going to whine then put the Ranger pest on the ice against him to make it worthwhile. Carcillo can get under Crosby’s skin and off his game would be a win for the Rangers especially if Carcillo goads him into responding. If Malkin is not on Crosby’s line then keep Boyle there.

The Rangers have to play with serious composure and discipline as giving the Penguins power plays is inviting disaster. The Ranger penalty kill in the Flyer series was 71.4% which is 15th out of the teams that played in the first round.

While the Penguins wasn’t much better at 74% they are facing a Ranger power play that was horrible scoring only 3 times on 29 attempts. But there is a solution for the Ranger power play woes and it is the oldest mantra in hockey “attack the net” whether you are camping bodies in Marc-Andre Fleury’s crease or taking the puck to the net with bodies and out fighting the Penguins for the pucks.

It is in this area where Rick Nash do the most damage as almost every time he attacked the net the Rangers either scored or generated a “dangerous” scoring chance. Fleury has been rattled in recent playoff series and the Rangers if they attack can and will score on him.

But if the Rangers continue to play a perimeter game like they have then they will turn Fleury into a stud goalie as if he can see the puck then he can stop the puck. The Bluejackets were scoring from 10 feet in on Fleury and they don’t have the firepower the Rangers do.

The Rangers have to play 60 minute games not 40 minute or 50 minute as start to finish they have to bring the effort against the Penguins. They can’t expect Henrik Lundqvist to win 4 games by shutting the Penguins out every night as that just won’t happen.

If anything the best way to help Henrik Lundqvist would be to put 4-5 goals on Fleury because that will put all the pressure on Fleury since everyone will be questioning whether or not Blysma should go with him or play untested rookie Jeff Zatkoff. Or even better start the Thomas Vokoun rumors up as it was Vokoun who replaced Fleury in the playoffs last year.

There is also an area that is much different for the Rangers this time around and that is they are the younger team in this year’s matchup. The Penguins will have 13 players on their roster who are 30 and older while the Rangers will have just 5 so keep hitting the Penguins every chance you get.

This series is going to come down to which team dictates and imposes its will on the other team the most. If the Rangers can play smart and keep the Penguins in chess match games then the Rangers can and will win this series.

As for the series I have said since the beginning of the playoffs that I only fear a Ranger/Boston Bruin matchup so I am going to say the Rangers will give the home fans a chance to serenade Crosby into the off-season in 6 games.

Posted by Jess Rubenstein | May 2, 2014 at 03:37 am

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New York Rangers VS Boston Bruins
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 0 2 1 - 3
Bruins 1 0 1 - 2

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