Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (1-0) @ New York Rangers (0-1)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: This game will be on TNT everywhere in America (even in local markets). But if you get the AT&T Sportsnet channel and want to listen to Steve Mears and Bob Errey, you can do that this round too. The game is also on the radio at the Pens’ official partner WXDX (105.9 FM) .
Opponent Track: The Rangers will look to salvage a home split tonight after the Game 1 loss.
Pens Path Ahead: The series shifts to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday. Both future games will be 7:00pm starts.
Hidden Stat: Pittsburgh is 23-8 (.742) in playoff series all-time when winning Game 1 (h/t Pens PR).
SBN Counterpart Blog: Blueshirt Banter
Game 1 Lines
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Frank Vatrano
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Andrew Copp
Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko
Barclay Goodrow - Kevin Rooney - Ryan Reaves
Ryan Lindgren / Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba
Patrik Nemeth / Braden Schneider
Goalies: Igor Shesterkin (Alexandar Georgiev)
Scratches: Dryden Hunt, Julien Gauthier, Lauri Pajuniemi, Greg McKegg, Johnny Brodzinski, Tim Gettinger, Justin Braun, Nils Lundqvist, Zac Jones, Jarred Tinordi, Libor Hajek, Matthew Robertson, Keith Kinkaid
IR: Sammy Blais
—Ryan Lindgren got banged up with an unspecified lower body injury in Game 1 (and he had been missing practices in the lead up to the playoffs lately) but coach Gerard Gallant said yesterday that they are expecting Lindgren to be able and play tonight.
The magic man
Artemi Panarin’s name sounds like the overpriced hospital food chain that spawned his “Breadman” nickname, but Magic man would be a better one to take over as something of this generation’s Pavel Datsyuk.
Panarin was one of the Rangers most visible players in Game 1, and frankly Pittsburgh is probably lucky they got out of the game without him recording a point. Panarin skated almost 32 minutes, had nine total shot attempts and also got some praise from his coach for a strong performance to open the playoffs.
#NYR Gallant on Panarin's play in Game 1:— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) May 4, 2022
“He created a lot of chances last night. When we look back at the chances, he missed some real good chances. But overall, we all can be better. Not just Panarin. We all can be better. We were all really good and then we were all fair.”
Panarin has close to Jake Guentzel-size official dimensions (listed probably generously at both 5’11 and 170 pounds, officially) but commands attention and the puck follows him around. His vision and passing to fire pucks through seams and create scoring chances was on display several times. Panarin has 28 career playoff points in 31 games, and likely will be adding to that soon. Pittsburgh’s challenge will be to limit the damage or somehow keep him in check as the series goes along.
Rangers looking for consistency
Unsurprisingly, the message to the NYR players was to move on from the 3OT loss and remind them to get back to playing more like the opening minutes of the game, where they were the better team.
Coach Gerard Gallant on what #NYR need to improve on: “Consistency with our game. Play that battle, play that heavy game for 60 minutes. You can’t play it for 25 and expect success from that. We did a lot of things right the first 25 and after that, they took over a little bit.”— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) May 4, 2022
I think they kinda did the New York Islanders special of running around the offensive zone, rattling the boards with big hits and riling up the crowd and raising the energy level, but what did their start really accomplish? Did Adam Fox score on the power play or Chris Kreider score on the PK because of all the momentum caused by big hits? I would think, probably not.
Beyond all the sound and fury of Ryan Reaves annihilating Pittsburgh defenders by finishing his checks, what did the NYR fourth line accomplish? They were badly outshot, played by far the fewest minutes of any forwards on the team and only generated 0.28 expected goals for (compared to 1.2ish xGA).
And, in the end, Pittsburgh still dominated and scored a lot more goals at 5v5 in and around the net in Game 1, per Natural Stat Trick.
That isn’t to say a bruising energy grind line has no value or upside, but a lot of time since what they do is so flashy and eye-catching (big hits), their presence, influence and importance can be over-stated (ala again that Islanders reference).
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Jason Zucker - Jeff Carter - Brock McGinn
Brian Boyle - Teddy Blueger - Evan Rodrigues
Brian Dumoulin / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mike Matheson / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Louis Domingue (Alex D’Orio)
Scratches: Mark Friedman, Tristan Jarry, Nathan Beaulieu, Rickard Rakell, Drew O’Connor, Casey DeSmith
—With Rakell officially “day to day” (and realistically, probably a little more severe), we’ll go ahead and take him out of the lineup and put Zucker back in. It could be O’Connor, but with Zucker in a normal practice jersey it appears he is going to try and gut it out for the playoffs or as long as his body can hold up. Doesn’t feel very promising since he is not close to 100% and hasn’t been able to stay on the ice before, but at least Zucker is emptying the tank and giving the team everything he’s got. Can’t ask for much more than that.
—Welcome to the NHL, Alex D’Orio. The undrafted 23-year old has mostly been bouncing between the AHL and ECHL over his entire career, including this season. But he’s also the last remaining healthy goalie in the organization on an NHL contract this season, so options are becoming extremely limited. D’Orio’s stat line won’t give much confidence from this season (.865 save% in 11 ECHL games, gulp) so jeez, the Pens really could benefit from not losing their third string goalie to injury too.
The Pens absolutely bombarded Shesterkin and the Rangers on Tuesday night. The Penguins’ 83 shots in the game were a franchise record, and the second highest total in NHL history behind Tampa Bay’s 88 shots against Columbus on Aug. 11, 2020.
The Guentzel-Crosby-Rust line combined for 24 shots alone, just themselves (with some coming on the power play). That’s almost a whole game sometimes for some teams! Every skater on the team had at least one SOG in Game 1, with a whopping 11 players recording four or more shots for the Pens.