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Penguins vs. Rangers Game Preview

Monday, 01.31.2011 / 9:00 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins vs. Rangers Game Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins
Overall:
31-15-4-66
Home: 17-9-1-35
Road: 14-6-3-31

WHEN: Feb. 1 - 7:30 pm   |   WHERE: Madison Square Garden
WATCH:
Versus  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
New York Rangers
Overall:
29-20-3-61
Home: 12-11-2-26
Road:
17-9-1-35

  Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers 
 
      
Wojtek Wolski
F  -  #86
  9 Goals
  14 Assists
  23 Points
• Has seven points (3G-4A) in nine games with New York after being traded to the Rangers from Phoenix on Jan. 10 in exchange for defenseman Michal Rozsival.

• Had been traded to the Coyotes from Colorado last season with 18 games left, exploding for 18 points (6G-12A) over that span and finishing the 2009-10 campaign with a career-high total of 65 points (23G-42A) in 80 total games with both clubs.

• The 24-year-old has already played in 365 regular-season games since entering the league in 2005, playing parts of five seasons with the Avalanche, who drafted him in the first round (21st overall) in 2004.
 
Mats Zuccarello
F  -  #36
  3 Goals
  8 Assists
  11 Points
• After getting recalled from the American Hockey League on Dec. 22, the 23-year-old has eight points (3G-5A), 34 shots on goal and is a perfect 4-for-4 on shootout attempts through 16 games.

• The 5-foot-7, 174-pound forward was the MVP of the Swedish Elite League last season after leading the league in scoring with 64 points (23G-41A) through 55 games as a member of Modo Hockey.

• The native of Norway has represented his country at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and the 2008, ’09 and ’10 IIHF World Championships.
 
Matt Gilroy
D  -  #97
  3 goals
  5 assists
  8 points
• Won the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey’s top player, as a Boston University senior on April 10, 2009 – leading the Terriers to a national championship the following night.

• The undrafted defenseman became the second player in school history to capture the award, as Rangers teammate and former Terrier Chris Drury earned the honor in 1998.

• The North Bellmore, N.Y., native signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Rangers on April 17, 2009, making his NHL debut against the Penguins on Oct. 2 of that year.
The New York Rangers’ lineup has been ravaged by injuries as of late. They had eight players out entering the All-Star break, including leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky. But the Penguins will be facing a revamped Rangers squad on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, as two key Blueshirts – forward Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi – will be back in the lineup, with Dubinsky potentially making his return against the Penguins as well.

Callahan broke his hand blocking a shot on Dec. 15 against the Penguins and has missed the last 19 games, but the Rangers announced their alternate captain will play Tuesday, as will Girardi, who has missed the past two games (the first pair of contests he's missed in his NHL career) with a strained rib muscle. Dubinsky has missed the past five games with a stress fracture in his left leg, but practiced Monday and hasn't ruled himself out from facing Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Despite their misfortunes, the Rangers still have a respectable 29-20-3 record which has them in the midst of the playoff race, as they’re ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference and are a game ahead of seventh-place Montreal. With seven of the Rangers’ eight injured players entering the All-Star break being forwards, the Blueshirts have been led by the consistent production of forward Brian Boyle, who has yet to miss a game. Boyle has provided some much-needed secondary scoring with his team-leading 18 goals. They’ve also been boosted by the play of recent call-up Mats Zuccarello, who has seven points (2G-5A) in his last seven games.

But New York’s real strength lies on the back end. All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been playing outstanding for the Rangers, as he’s tied for first in the league with seven shutouts, tied for seventh with a .924 save percentage and ranks eighth with a 2.29 goals-against average. All-Star defenseman Marc Staal has been a workhorse in front of Lundqvist, averaging 25:33 minutes of ice time per contest, while the gritty Girardi, his defense partner, has 143 blocked shots and 108 hits through 50 games played.
  • This is the fourth meeting between the two Atlantic Division rivals, with the Rangers topping the Penguins twice at CONSOL Energy Center, 4-1 on Dec. 15 and 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 15, while Pittsburgh topped the Rangers 3-1 on Nov. 29 at Madison Square Garden. The Penguins are now 9-1-2 against the Rangers in their past 11 contests, earning an 18-5-8 record against New York since the beginning of the 2006-’07 season. Last season, the Penguins finished with a 5-0-1 record versus the Rangers.
  • Tuesday marks the Penguins’ 10th set of back-to-back games. Pittsburgh has an overall record of 12-4-2 in back-to-back contests, including a 6-3 record in the first game. The Penguins’ last pair of back-to-back games came when Pittsburgh defeated Tampa Bay 8-1 on Jan. 5 before falling to Montreal in a shootout the following night by a score of 2-1.
  • The Penguins continue to own the NHL’s top penalty killing unit, killing off 88.5 percent of the penalties assessed to them. Pittsburgh has gone six straight games and 10 of the previous 11 without surrendering an opposition power-play goal. They enter Tuesday’s game owning the NHL’s top road penalty killing unit with a success rate of 91 percent. They have allowed their opposition just nine goals in 100 chances in 23 road games. The Penguins rank second in the league with eight shorthanded tallies, trailing only the Rangers, who have nine.
  • Penguins forward Chris Conner has three goals, including two game-winning goals, in his past two visits to Madison Square Garden. Conner scored the winning goal in the Penguins’ 3-1 victory on Nov. 29 of this season and tallied twice in a 4-2 win on Jan. 25 of last season on the same day he was an emergency recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).

 

      
Shake Off The Rust: Getting off to a fast start after a six-day break will be tough, but the Penguins will have to find their legs as quickly as possible against a tough Rangers squad. The Blueshirts are already dangerous despite their influx of injuries, and hope to be even more of a threat on Tuesday with the impending return of three key players. The Rangers have been playing some inspired hockey as of late, and the Penguins will have to get the jump on them coming off both teams’ long break.

Secondary Scoring: The Penguins won two straight games entering the All-Star break, and those victories were powered by contributions from all over the lineup. Craig Adams scored his third goal of the season to power Pittsburgh past the New York Islanders, 1-0, in their last game before the break, after Pascal Dupuis, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey tallied in a 3-2 defeat of Carolina on Jan. 22. And while he hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet, Maxime Talbot has been playing outstanding as of late. The Penguins will need to continue their secondary offense in the continuing absence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.


F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
C Sidney Crosby, concussion (indefinitely)
F Eric Godard, eye (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, knee/illness (day-to-day)
RW Derek Boogaard, concussion (indefinitely)
RW Ryan Callahan, broken left hand (Feb. 1)
C Erik Christensen, sprained right MCL (late January)
RW Brandon Dubinsky, stress fracture in left fibula (mid-February)
LW Ruslan Fedotenko, sprained shoulder (early February)
LW Alex Frolov, torn ligaments in right knee (out for the season)
D Dan Girardi, strained rib muscle (Feb. 1)
LW Vinny Prospal, knee surgery (early February)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Boyle (18)
A
Crosby (34) Dubinsky (21)
PTS
Crosby (66) Dubinsky (38)
PIM
Rupp/Engelland (76) Avery (146)
+/-
Letang (+22) Staal (+12)
PP
Crosby (10) Three tied with (4)
SH
Three tied with (2)
Prust (3)
W/L
Fleury (23-11-2) Lundqvist (21-16-3)
GAA
Johnson (2.04) Biron (2.21)
SVP
Johnson (.926) Lundqvist (.924)

Kris Letang - With six days going by since the Penguins’ last game – a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Jan. 25 – we’re going to give ‘Who’s Hot’ honors to defenseman Kris Letang, who was one of two Penguins to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Raleigh, N.C. The blueliner had quite the outing for Team Staal, scoring two goals while logging 18:19 of ice time playing alongside the Rangers’ Marc Staal in his team’s eventual 11-10 defeat of Marc-Andre Fleury and Team Lidstrom. Entering the break, Letang ranked third among NHL defensemen with 34 assists and fourth (tied) among blueliners with 41 points. He’s also fourth (tied) in the entire league with a plus-22 rating.
 
Brian Boyle - With their influx of injuries to key players – with seven of eight injured Rangers being forwards – thankfully the Rangers have Boyle. The center is currently riding a three-game point streak, tallying two goals and an assist in that span, and has five points (4G-1A) in his last seven contests. His offensive production has been the one constant for the Blueshirts this season, as Boyle paces the team with a career-high 18 goals. Not only has Boyle been scoring at a personal-best clip, but he’s also been a force all over the ice, leading the team with 154 hits and pacing all Rangers forwards with 52 blocked shots.
 
 
 
 


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WHEN: Feb. 1 - 7:30 pm
WHERE: Madison Square Garden
WATCH: Versus
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM


SCOUTING REPORT

The New York Rangers’ lineup has been ravaged by injuries as of late. They had eight players out entering the All-Star break, including leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky. But the Penguins will be facing a revamped Rangers squad on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, as two key Blueshirts – forward Ryan Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi – will be back in the lineup, with Dubinsky potentially making his return against the Penguins as well.

Callahan broke his hand blocking a shot on Dec. 15 and has missed the last 19 games, but the Rangers announced their alternate captain will play Tuesday, as will Girardi, who has missed the past two games (the first pair of contests he's missed in his NHL career) with a strained rib muscle. Dubinsky has missed the past five games with a stress fracture in his left leg, but practiced Monday and hasn't ruled himself out from facing Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Despite their misfortunes, the Rangers still have a respectable 29-20-3 record which has them in the midst of the playoff race, as they’re ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference and are a game ahead of seventh-place Montreal. With seven of the Rangers’ eight injured players entering the All-Star break being forwards, the Blueshirts have been led by the consistent production of forward Brian Boyle, who has yet to miss a game. Boyle has provided some much-needed secondary scoring with his team-leading 18 goals. They’ve also been boosted by the play of recent call-up Mats Zuccarello, who has seven points (2G-5A) in his last seven games.

But New York’s real strength lies on the back end. All-Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been playing outstanding for the Rangers, as he’s tied for first in the league with seven shutouts, tied for seventh with a .924 save percentage and ranks eighth with a 2.29 goals-against average. All-Star defenseman Marc Staal has been a workhorse in front of Lundqvist, averaging 25:33 minutes of ice time per contest, while the gritty Girardi, his defense partner, has 143 blocked shots and 108 hits through 50 games played.

INTERESTING STATS

* This is the fourth meeting between the two Atlantic Division rivals, with the Rangers topping the Penguins twice at CONSOL Energy Center, 4-1 on Dec. 15 and 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 15, while Pittsburgh topped the Rangers 3-1 on Nov. 29 at Madison Square Garden. The Penguins are now 9-1-2 against the Rangers in their past 11 contests, earning an 18-5-8 record against New York since the beginning of the 2006-’07 season. Last season, the Penguins finished with a 5-0-1 record versus the Rangers.

* Tuesday marks the Penguins’ 10th set of back-to-back games. Pittsburgh has an overall record of 12-4-2 in back-to-back contests, including a 6-3 record in the first game. The Penguins’ last pair of back-to-back games came when Pittsburgh defeated Tampa Bay 8-1 on Jan. 5 before falling to Montreal in a shootout the following night by a score of 2-1.

* The Penguins continue to own the NHL’s top penalty killing unit, killing off 88.5 percent of the penalties assessed to them. Pittsburgh has gone six straight games and 10 of the previous 11 without surrendering an opposition power-play goal. They enter Tuesday’s game owning the NHL’s top road penalty killing unit with a success rate of 91 percent. They have allowed their opposition just nine goals in 100 chances in 23 road games. The Penguins rank second in the league with eight shorthanded tallies, trailing only the Rangers, who have nine.

* Penguins forward Chris Conner has three goals, including two game-winning goals, in his past two visits to Madison Square Garden. Conner scored the winning goal in the Penguins’ 3-1 victory on Nov. 29 of this season and tallied twice in a 4-2 win on Jan. 25 of last season on the same day he was an emergency recall from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).

KEYS TO THE GAME

Shake Off The Rust: Getting off to a fast start after a six-day break will be tough, but the Penguins will have to find their legs as quickly as possible against a tough Rangers squad. The Blueshirts are already dangerous despite their influx of injuries, and hope to be even more of a threat on Tuesday with the impending return of three key players. The Rangers have been playing some inspired hockey as of late, and the Penguins will have to get the jump on them coming off both teams’ long break.

Secondary Scoring: The Penguins won two straight games entering the All-Star break, and those victories were powered by contributions from all over the lineup. Craig Adams scored his third goal of the season to power Pittsburgh past the New York Islanders, 1-0, in their last game before the break, after Pascal Dupuis, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey tallied in a 3-2 defeat of Carolina on Jan. 22. And while he hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet, Maxime Talbot has been playing outstanding as of late. The Penguins will need to continue their secondary offense in the continuing absence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

WHO'S HOT

Kris Letang - With six days going by since the Penguins' last game - a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Jan. 25 - we're going to give 'Who's Hot' honors to defenseman Kris Letang, who was one of two Penguins to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Raleigh, N.C. The blueliner had quite the outing for Team Staal, scoring two goals while logging 18:19 of ice time playing alongside the Rangers' Marc Staal in his team's eventual 11-10 defeat of Marc-Andre Fleury and Team Lidstrom. Entering the break, Letang ranked third among NHL defensemen with 34 assists and fourth (tied) among blueliners with 41 points. He's also fourth (tied) in the entire league with a plus-22 rating.

Brian Boyle - With their influx of injuries to key players - with seven of eight injured Rangers being forwards - thankfully the Rangers have Boyle. The center is currently riding a three-game point streak, tallying two goals and an assist in that span, and has five points (4G-1A) in his last seven contests. His offensive production has been the one constant for the Blueshirts this season, as Boyle paces the team with a career-high 18 goals. Not only has Boyle been scoring at a personal-best clip, but he's also been a force all over the ice, leading the team with 154 hits and pacing all Rangers forwards with 52 blocked shots.




Author: Michelle Crechiolo

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