Bruce Bennett

Gameday 7: Penguins @ Rangers

Coming off the worst outing of the year, a 4-1 loss at home to NY Islanders, the Penguins hit the road for their second game against the Rangers.

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6 Total Updates since January 31, 2013
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New York Rangers lines tonight vs. Pittsburgh

From Blueshirt Banter, here's how the Rangers lines are expected to look tonight:

Marian Gaborik - Brad Richards - Rick Nash Carl Hagelin - Derek Stepan - Taylor Pyatt Mike Rupp - Brian Boyle - Benn Ferriero Arron Asham - Jeff Halpern - Stu Bickel Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi Marc Staal - Michael Del Zotto Anton Stralman - Matt Gilroy Henrik Lundqvist Scratches: Chris Kreider (ankle), Steve Eminger

With Ryan Callahan hurt, once you get past that first line there's not a lot of scoring threats. But man is that top line pretty potent with 3 all-star caliber players. Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin better get their pre-game nap in today.And how about that look at ex-Penguin Mike Rupp and ex-Penguin farm hand Benn Ferrerio holding down spots on the 3rd line. Bickel, it should be pointed out, is a defenseman by trade. That almost makes the Pens lower lines look good by comparision.

Defensively, the Rangers look good on paper with all their top players in the lineup and ready to go. Lundqvist isn't used to getting chased from games, so we can expect him ready and focused to shut down the Pens tonight.

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Tomas Vokoun to start tonight vs. Rangers

Marc-Andre Fleury started but didn't finish last game against the Islanders, he gave up four goals in the first two periods and then was pulled in favor of backup Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun closed out the game in quiet fashion, allowing no goals, but not really being tested by the Isles, who coasted to the 4-1 win.

For the game tonight in New York, against the Rangers, it appears the Pens will turn to their backup Vokoun, who'll make his third start of the season. Vokoun was the first goalie off the ice for the morning skate, which usually means he is the guy playing.

Vokoun played the Pens last game in Manhattan 11 days ago, he looked solid in a 6-3 win. One of the goals he gave up was on a 5-on-3 Rangers powerplay, one was on a short-handed breakaway the Pens gave up and the other was with traffic in front, so even though he gave up three goals, there's not much blame to be laid at Vokoun.

For Fleury, it's been alternating good and bad performances. Before the NYI game, he was great against Ottawa on Sunday, yielding only one goal in 65 minutes and the Pens skated to a shootout win. His play against NYI wasn't truly bad- though he could have perhaps played the game's opening wraparound goal a little better- and MAF did get hung out to dry more than a few times by his defense who didn't tie up sticks in fronot of the net and allowed a clean breakaway for former 30 goal scorer Michael Grabner.

Still, Fleury will have time to sit and wonder about that last game tonight when Vokoun gets the start. Luckily the schedule will defer any goalie controversy- the team's next two games are back-to-backs and afternoon games home against New Jersey on Saturday and at Washington on Sunday. Each Fleury and Vokoun should probably get a game.

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3 Questions with Blueshirt Banter

Our partners at Blueshirt Banter, the Rangers blog on SB Nation, were nice enough to answer some questions about the Rangers. Give them a look for their perspective on the game tonight.

#1 - Since the first meeting with the Penguins, the Rangers have gone 3-1-0, what’s been the key to the turnaround?
I think the turnaround has been from a number of things. The Rangers are a team that needs a training camp, especially since they changed their identity over the summer from a gritty keep grinding style to a more high-end style. Rangers fans like to panic sometimes. The team got off to a slow start, you can make the argument (and I would make the argument) that the team still hasn't hit their potential. But in a shortened season like this it's a "make the playoffs" mentality. The Rangers should be in the top-eight easily.

#2 – Now that you’ve gotten to see more of Rick Nash in action, what’s your take on his play? Meeting expectations? I noticed his only goal came against the Penguins, but he is at a point per game so far in the young season.

I am shocked at how Rick Nash didn't get more press in Columbus. He is a truly complete hockey player. He's fantastic in all three zones, and every time he touches the puck something good happens. He hasn't scored much (one goal on 26 shots) but that will change. I have been really, really impressed with him thus far. I can't say enough good things about him.

#3 – The NYR power play is just 3 for 24 so far this season, what’s been the main culprit so far and how do you seem them turning it around?

Ahh the power play. honestly, I don't know. I think they just need to keep working. In the Rangers' past two wins the power play has looked much better, even though it only connected once. I think the players are still trying to figure each other out as well. If I had to make one change? I would put Nash in front of the net instead of Callahan. Nash has ridiculous hands and is a big body to screen the goalie. Maybe with Callahan out the Rangers can use Nash in that role.

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