PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (40-27-8) vs NEW YORK RANGERS (39-27-9)
IN PITTSBURGH @ 1:00
RADIO FEED ON WXDX.COM
Nothing like a nice division rivalry to stir the playoff pot. Enter the New York Rangers, the ole red, white and blueshirts who kicked off the season with a tremendous 10-2-1 record. Now, with seven games remaining on their schedule, the Rangers hope to hang on to their sixth seed (or higher) position in the East.
One point seperates these two teams. Pitt has 88, the Rangers have 87. The playoffs are easily within reach for both teams. Wins are a necessity at this point in the season. Given the proposition that 93 points secures a playoff position, the Penguins must go at least 2-4-1 over the next seven, while New York must achieve a 3-4-0 record to close out the year.
In recent action, the Rangers fell to the Atlanta Thrashers in a 5-4 shootout. It's odd to think Henrik Lundqvist had the night off when it wasn't part of a back to back and there was two days of down time before the Pens game. However he was in a position where he started 20 of the last 21 games on New York's schedule. I'd imagine John Tortarella wanted him at his best against the Pens.
So can we expect a healthy, well-rested Henrik in net today? Yes. But let's also not dismiss the fact that he's 8-2-0 over his last ten starts, yet failed to play a solid game against the Pens the last time these teams met back on January 28. In that match Pitt rallied in the third period to produce five straight goals in a 6-2 win. Letang had two goals, Sid had three assists and Henrik looked out of his element.
Hopefully visions of that game creep back into his mind. Two points today puts Pitt in prime playoff position. (Say that ten times fast.)
Random stats: The Rangers' power play is second to last in the league at 14.4%. However their PK is first in the league at an impressive 87.7%.