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  • Nolan Ballinger

Rangers vs Penguins Playoff Preview

This series features two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions. First of all, this is the first time since 2017 we have seen the Rangers in the playoffs and it’s almost a completely different roster since undergoing an accelerated rebuild. For many of these young players, this will be their first taste of NHL playoff action. On the other side, this could possibly be the last playoff push for the aging core that has seen the Penguins win multiple cups.

Goaltending will be a storyline in this series for both positive and negative reasons. The Rangers have benefitted massively from what is likely a vezina winning season from Igor Shesterkin whereas the Penguins unfortunately find themselves without their starting goaltender Tristan Jarry who has had a solid bounce back season after a tough playoffs. Jarry suffered a broken foot towards the end of the season so his health will be a massive question heading into this series.

These teams have met four times this season with Pittsburgh winning three of those contests: Penguins 3-1-0; Rangers 1-3-0

New York (52-24-6))

The future is undoubtedly bright for this Rangers squad and that all begins with goaltender Igor Shesterkin who has looked like nothing short of a brick wall in net this year posting a .935 save percentage over 53 games.

Outside of the crease, the Rangers will be led by star forwards Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin as they look to take advantage of a Penguins team without their starting goaltender. Kreider has provided the Rangers with a career best season in which he reached the 50 goal mark for the first time in his career, finishing with 52. Pararin also had a strong season putting up 96 points despite missing seven games due to injury.

Although he hasn’t been talked about as much as last season due to strong performances from other defencemen in the league, Adam Fox has once again recorded another dominant season coming off winning the Norris Trophy last year.

Pittsburgh (46-25-11)

The Penguins could find themselves in a tough spot for the first couple games as they will be without goaltender Tristan Jarry who suffered a broken foot towards the end of the season. Unsurprisingly to any hockey fan, Sidney Crosby has been a major bright spot for the Penguins this year since returning from his injury that kept him out of the lineup to start the season.

It seems more and more likely that this will be the last we see of the Penguins core of Crosby, Malkin, and Letang so they will be looking to go out with a bang. Pittsburgh made a splash at the trade deadline by acquiring Rickard Rakell from Anaheim to strengthen their forward depth on the right side. This acquisition provided the Penguins an opportunity for flexibility within their top six forwards having the option to play Crosby and Guentzel with Rust or Rakell on the right side.

Keys To The Series

This could be a fun series for those who like to follow narratives in hockey because we will see an older team with more playoff experience facing off against a younger/faster team which is a direct clashing of two philosophies on what it takes to win in the NHL. The Rangers will look to capitalize on the powerplay especially while Jarry is out and that’s something the Penguins will need to account for. The Penguins will need to rely on their experience to wear the Rangers down physically and mentally while making seeing the puck very difficult for Shesterkin.

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