It is official, the New York Rangers will be facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the playoffs thanks to the Flyers 3-2 overtime win over the Caps tonight. Now Washington must hate Tom Poti as much as I do, thanks to his bad overtime penalty that led to the game-winner. Nice.
But back to us ... here is how we fared against Pittsburgh so far this season:
10-23-07: 1-0 loss at Pitt
11-8-07: 4-2 win at MSG
11-17-07: 4-3 OT win at Pitt
12-18-07: 4-0 win at MSG
1-14-08: 4-1 loss at Pitt
3-18-08: 5-2 win at MSG
3-30-08: 3-1 loss at Pitt
3-31-08: 2-1 OT win at MSG
Game 1: Friday, April 25th in Pittsburgh
Game 2: Sunday, April 27th in Pittsburgh, 2pm
Game 3: Tuesday, April 29th at MSG
Game 4: Thursday, May 1st at MSG
*Game 5: Sunday, May 4th in Pittsburgh, 2pm
*Game 6: Monday, May 5th at MSG
*Game 7: Wednesday, May 7th in Pittsburgh
The Rangers played the Pens three times in the playoffs and lost all three. The biggest moment of the three series was in 1991 when Adam Graves slashed Mario Lemieux, 'breaking' his wrist. Graves, who had seven goals in those playoffs, was suspended and the series turned for Pittsburgh. Mario made a miraculous recovery and was back the next series to lead the Pens to the Stanley Cup. The last playoff meeting was in 1996, a 4-1 loss in the second round.
Keys to this Series:
*Someone has to give Cindy a binky so he can't cry to the refs. They will enter the series looking to favour the poster boy and his team, but if he starts complaining, we could be in trouble.
*Georges Laraque cannot be allowed to dictate the game. His physical play has to be countered so don't be surprised to see a return of Colton Orr. It would hurt to see Ryan Hollweg's speed taken out of the lineup but someone has to stand up to the gentleman giant. But at the same time - there should be absolutely no goonery for the sake of goonery - this is playoff hockey.
*On the same note, don't hammer Hal Gill. Pittsburgh acquired him purely for this series to shut down Jagr. Keep Jagr and the rest of the Ranger forwards as far away from Gill's reach as possible. He has zero speed so keep swarming the net, but don't plant yourself there unless he is getting testy and you can draw a penalty. Aside from him, the Pens defense is fast but weak and mistake-prone - go hard.
*Also take a lot of shots because Marc-Andre Fleury really isn't that great. He has stepped up his play since coming back from an ankle sprain, but he still gives up bad rebounds and loses his positioning.
*Remember Petr Sykora has a vicious wrist shot and is incredibly dangers, especially on the power play. Best yet, don't take any penalties.
*Marian Hossa has yet to be Marian Hossa for the Pens; don't let him remember how to dominate games. And for that matter, don't let Evgeni Malkin go free because he is probably the best all-around player in the NHL.
Must read blogs (aside from mine): The Pensblog and Empty Netters.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!