When: 6:00 p.m. eastern (very bizarre start time for a week night game, no clue why this is!)
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG in the NYC area, and NBC Sports everywhere else
Opponent Track: The Rangers had a three game winning streak halted on Sunday with the 5-1 loss. Their offense also dried up, considering they had 12 total goals in the prior two games, and scored another very early on against the Pens. NYR will definitely be looking to find a bit more and bounce-back from the last 58 minutes from Sunday.
Pens path ahead: Today concludes a five game homestand for the Pens (who are 3-1-0 on it, and man it could have been 4-0-0 if not for the collapse when being up three goals against Philly. That’s still going to take a while to get over...) Anyways, it should be good news for Pittsburgh, they get their first games this season against last place doormats in Buffalo on Thursday and Saturday.
Season Series: Pittsburgh is 4-1-0 vs NYR this season. The Pens beat the Rangers 4-3 in the shootout back on January 22nd with Kris Letang notching the deciding goal. On January 24th, Pittsburgh defeated NYR 3-2 when Jake Guentzel scored a goal late in the third period to give the Pens the W. Sidney Crosby scored the OT winner on January 30th to seal a 5-4 win. The Rangers struck back to win 3-1 on February 1st. And the Pens struck often to win 5-1 on Sunday. After this week, the season series is scheduled to be completed on April 6+8 in NYC.
Recent History: The Pens have performed really well the Rangers as of late, going 8-1-3 vs. the Blueshirts in the last 12 games. Expand it out further and Pittsburgh is 12-3-3 against NYR in the last 18 contests between the two teams.
Player Stats at a Glance
—As a team in a competitive, professional setting there can be no mercy of course, but as an observer it’s tough not to feel a bit sorry for the Rangers right now. Their best skater had to leave the team to deal with the fall-out of politically motivated accusations...Their starting goalie, who was having a great season, got hurt last week. It’s a tough time for New York right now.
—I’ve made this observations in earlier NYR matchups this year, but it’s always something I notice. Other than goalie Keith Kinkaid, the Rangers only had one (1) player over the age of 30 who played on Sunday (defenseman Brendan Smith, who at 32 isn’t exactly a graybeard or getting AARP mailings himself). They only had two players that are 27+ years old (Smith and Chris Kreider). Compare that to the other end of the spectrum, NYR has a whopping NINE players who are 19-22 years old. The Rangers are so, so young, they’re almost half a NCAA team, age-wise. The Pens only have one player younger than 24 (John Marino).
Alexis Lafreniere - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Chris Kreider - Ryan Strome - Kaapo Kakko
Kevin Rooney - Filip Chytil - Julien Gauthier
Brendan Lemieux - Brett Howden - Phil Di Giuseppe
Ryan Lindgren / Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba
Brendan Smith / Libor Hajek
Possible starting goalie: Alexandar Georgiev?
Scratches: Artemi Panarin (personal reasons), Igor Shesterkin (injury), Colin Blackwell, Jack Johnson
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jared McCann? - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev
Evan Rodrigues - Mark Jankowski - Anthony Angello
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Cody Ceci
Possible starting goalie: ?
Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Sam Lafferty
IR: Juuso Riikola, Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman
Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Josh Currie, Maxime Lagace
COVID protocol list: Colton Sceviour
—We’ll see about what McCann’s status is, the Pens were off yesterday and there was no update on him. If he can’t play, it probably pushes Rodrigues up into a bigger role and might pave the way for Lafferty to get another shot in the lineup, unless the Pens make bigger moves from the taxi squad/AHL.
—We’ll also find out if the Pens stick with Casey DeSmith in net after he got the win and only gave up one goal on 24 shots on Sunday or go back to Tristan Jarry. Either way they turn looks like a great option with so many recent strong performances in net.
—By the way, the Rangers only getting 24 shots on net was the second game in a row of low shots against, with Philadelphia only getting 23 SOG in the Pens 4-3 win on Saturday. But before that, Philly had 39 and 42 shots in the prior two games, so the performances and wide-openness of games has varied wildly as of late.
Two headed monster feasting on New York
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have done a lot of damage to the Rangers over the years. From Pens PR, here’s some of their results:
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have historically been successful against the New York Rangers. In 72 career games versus the Rangers, Crosby has registered 35 goals, 58 assists and 93 points, while Malkin has tallied 64 points (29G-35A) in 63 career games against New York.
Crosby’s points-per-game average against the Rangers is tied for eighth-best in NHL history (min. 25 GP):
Mario Lemieux 1.89
Wayne Gretzky 1.76
Mike Bossy 1.53
John Cullen 1.34
Pierre Turgeon 1.30
Dale Hawerchuk 1.30
Sergei Fedorov 1.30
Sidney Crosby 1.29
Malkin’s 29 career goals against the Rangers are tied for his second-most against any one opponent:
NY Islanders 32
NY Rangers 29
Tampa Bay 25