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Game Preview: New York Rangers @ Pittsburgh Penguins 11/21/2023 - Lines, how to watch

It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh!

NHL: MAR 12 Rangers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who: New York Rangers (12-3-1, 25 points, 1st place Metropolitan Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (9-8-0, 18 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 pm start

How to Watch: SportsNet Pittsburgh locally, MSG, available streaming on ESPN+

Pens’ Path Ahead: It’s a quick trip up to Buffalo on Friday for another meeting with the Sabres, and then the Pens will have to get back for Toronto coming to town on Saturday. After that comes a two game southern road trip next week with stops in Nashville next Tuesday and Tampa next Thursday.

Opponent Track: The Rangers took a 2-0 lead on the road against Dallas on Monday but then gave up the next six goals to drop their first game in regulation in slightly over a month (Oct 19). They’re also in the middle of one of the more weird NHL road trips around in terms of geography (NJ-DAL-PIT-PHI).

Season Series: Only three PIT/NYR games this season, the Blueshirts come back to Pittsburgh on Saturday March 16th. Pittsburgh only makes one trip to the world’s most famous arena and it comes late in the season on April 1st.

Last Year: Pittsburgh went 2-2-0 vs. the Rangers last year (3-0-1 from the NYR perspective), but it felt a little worse since New York won the last two games of the season over three day stretch by a 10-2 combined score.

Hidden Stat: At home, the Penguins have won seven of their last eight games against New York, and have points in 10 of their last 11 games (9-1-1) at PPG Paints Arena (stat via Pens PR).

Getting to know the Rangers

Lines from Monday’s game

FORWARDS

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Blake Wheeler

Artemi Panarin - Vincent Trocheck - Alexis Lafreniere

Will Cuylle - Nick Bonino - Kaapo Kakko

Jimmy Vesey - Barclay Goodrow - Tyler Pitlick

DEFENSEMEN

K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba

Ryan Lindgren / Erik Gustafsson

Zac Jones / Braden Schneider

Goalies: Igor Shesterkin and Jonathan Quick

Possible scratches: Connor Mackey

IR: Filip Chytil, Adam Fox

—Fox has re-joined the team and is skating again, but due to his LTIR designation can’t play again for at least another week. Unfortunately, the news is not as optimistic about Chytil, who has not been seen since suffering the fourth concussion of his young career earlier this month.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

—Gustaffson has played for eight different NHL teams since the start of 2019-20 and it’s surprising he hasn’t been able to find a stable home. He’s a capable player who pitches in and can move the puck, yet has been a nomad bouncing around. The minute NYR signed him to a one-year, discount amount over the summer it looked like it would pay huge dividends as a solid, smart signing. So far, it’s done just that (especially with Fox going down and the team having a bigger need for a puck mover).

—Nick Bonino got hurt before he could make much of an impression in his Penguin 2.0 stint last season, but looked like he was about on his last legs. With no goals and one assist so far, he hasn’t made much of an impact. That’s an area the Chytil injury really hurts the Rangers (especially if it ends up being long-term), what was some good center depth starts drying up in a hurry.

Matchup

New coach Peter Laviolette has been vocal about calling his team out defensively, and so far they have responded. The Rangers got through a patch where Shesterkin was banged up pretty well due to some quality defensive inputs (and, to give the devil his due, veteran Jonathan Quick has played way better than most expected).

Offensively, the teams are strong where the other is weak. The Pens pile up chances at 5v5 and score a ton of goals there, but few on the power play and struggle to finish. The Rangers don’t produce nearly as much at even strength but are absolutely lethal on the power play and very good at capitalizing when they get the chances to score.

And now for the Pens...

Infographic courtesy of Pens PR

Potential Game Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Vinnie Hinostroza

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Alex Nylander

Drew O’Connor - Lars Eller - Radim Zohorna

Matt Nieto - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

Defense

Ryan Graves / Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson / Erik Karlsson

Ryan Shea / John Ludvig

Goalies: Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: Bryan Rust (injury), Jansen Harkins

IR: P.O. Joseph (lower body injury), Rickard Rakell (upper body injury), Chad Ruhwedel (lower body injury)

Season opening IR: Will Butcher

—The Penguins lines right now are...a mess. After being very stable in the non-goalie department all season so far, the injury situation has turned for the worse and thrown th lines into some chaos for the first time this year. Rakell is on LTIR and out for at least the next 10 games in what is a big blow to skill but not to production since he hasn’t been able to get much going this year. With nine goals on the season, the Rust injury hurts the team more, though it remains unknown how long that will be.

—In response, the team has called up Nylander and Harkins. Both could play, Matt Nieto has had many a maintenance day lately and Jeff Carter is well, Jeff Carter at this point. Having both new forwards on hand should give the team a compliment of 12 healthy bodies up front to choose from, though at press time it’s unknown just how Mike Sullivan will choose to fit which pieces in all these newly created holes.

—Defensively, suddenly the team looks a mess as well in the depth department after Ruhwedel joins Joseph on the IR. Signs are that Ludvig will be leaving IR and playing tonight after a two-game rehab stint in the AHL this weekend. The team currently only has six healthy defenders on the active roster, one open roster spot and now plenty of replacement cap space available with Rakell on LTIR to bring someone up today. Whether that’s the newly signed Dmitri Samorukov or another option like Ty Smith or a right shot in Taylor Fedun remains to be seen.