Hey, guess where we are:
-No, not quite:
(Brooks Orpik vacantly staring into the distance in HD made us briefly hide under the blankets.)
-Talk about two teams heading in opposite directions. The Penguins, fresh off a 4-1 thumping from the Islanders, have dropped three out of the past four and have seen general sloppiness overwhelm their play.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have won three out of their past four and are starting to rack up a little bit of offense, primarily from their "super" first line of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
-That line verus the Penguins' shutdown defensive pairing of Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik will be a huge match-up tonight.
-Martin needs a big rebound after a poor game Tuesday.
-The Penguins' special teams need a big rebound obviously. The power play was brutally inept against the Islander while the penalty kill was flatfooted.
-Regarding the power play, we know there hasn't been a great history of using Evgeni Malkin on the point, but he's got to be better than James Neal in that role. Neal looked totally out of place.
-Robert Bortuzzo will make his season debut. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, he's one of the bigger players on this roster. Considering the Rangers' size - they have eight players 6-foot-3 or taller - we wonder how much Dan Bylsma accounted for that factor in playing Bortuzzo. He is expected to be teamed with Deryk Engelland.
-Dustin Jeffrey will likely get another go on the left wing with Malkin and Neal. Of the Penguins' internal options, he's probably the most like Chris Kunitz in terms of being a guy who will go to the net and do the dirty work. Plus, he shoots the puck. Unlike a lot of players on this roster, he doesn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
-The Rangers will be without captain Ryan Callahan who does so much for New York, especially on the penalty kill. His absence will make life easier for the Penguins' power play.
-The Rangers are going to start Henrik Lundqvist in net again. He has started all six of the Rangers' games thus far this season. That's surprising. Given the success they had in giving his backup, Martin Biron, a regular work load last season, you'd think they'd want to be careful in running Lundqvist into the ice in this compacted season.
-Tyler Kennedy returns to the third line. We're not sure why he was dumped to the fourth line after the coaches removed him from the second line. His greatest success has on that third line. If you're going to abandon experimenting with him on the second line, why not return him to where he plays best. Plus, Tanner Glass never seemed to mesh with Brandon Sutter or Matt Cooke on that third line.
-Longtime reader @RangersGal sent in a warm-up picture:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Zach Boychuk, Ben Lovejoy and Eric Tangradi.
-The Rangers' starters are Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist.
-Their scratches are Ryan Callahan, Steve Eminger and Chris Kreider.
18:58: Taylor Pyatt (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) control the puck behind the Penguins' net and is bashed into the boards by Simon Despres on a nice check which separates the puck from Pyatt. Despres takes control of the puck and pushes it up ice.
18:43: After some strong work by Neal behind the Rangers' net, he deals a pass to Malkin int he right circle. Malkin then distributes the puck to Letang in the slot. Letang hammers a one-timer wide to the left of the cage. That has to be on net.
18:36: The Penguins keeps control of the rebound in the offensive zone. Despres mans the puck at the center point and kind of dishes a no-look pass to his right. Malkin is in the right circle and cracks a one-timer which sneaks by Lundqvist on the short side. Great little pass by Despes. That said, the Vezina Trophy winner needs to make that save.
16:56: After Glass forces a turnover in the right wing corner of the offensive zone, Craig Adams fires a slapper form the right circle. it appears to hit a skate in front.
16:38: The Penguins "new" power play gets a chance as Nash is called for high sticking against Glass. Malkin and Letang take the ice on the points. They'r joined by Kunitz, Malkin and Crosby up front.
16:02: After a brutal neutral zone turnover by Maklin, Ryan McDonagh leads a rush into the offensive zone. He puts a hard shot on net. Vokoun bodies it away. Ugly play by Malkin.
15:48: Crosby pushes the puck up the right wing, pulls up and hits Letang on a cross9-ice pass on the left wing. Letan taps a pass to Malkin moving up the slot. Malkin drops the hammer on a one-timer which Brian Boyle blocks.
14:59: Crosby one-touches a pass from the right cirlce to Letang in th left circle. Letang punches a quick shot on net. Lundqvist fights it off.
14:41: Letang works a puck from the left wall to Malkin at center point. Malkin one-touches to Crosby in the right circle. Crosby whacks a one-timer which Lundqvist gloves.
14:38: The Penguins' power play expires. It looked a little better than anything they tried agaisnt the Islanders Tuesday.
12:10: The Penguins match their third line againstthe Rangers on a faceoff in the Rangers' zone. As Gaborik leads a rush up the lef twing, he deals a pass to Richards in the right circle. Richards appears to have a clean look at the net but Sutter makes a nice poke check on backcheck and deflects the puck out of play.
11:34: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, McDonagh snaps off a wrister from the left point which hits a skate and deflects juuuust wide to the right of the cage.
10:41: Del Zotto chucks a wrister on net from the right point. Vokoun leans out of his crease and knocks it down with his glove hand and covers the rebound despite traffic. Engelland shoves Rich Nash out of the crease and sends him stumbling to the ice.
10:24: A slapper by Staal from the left point is blocked by Pascal Dupuis.
9:37: Sutter leads a rush up the left wing on a two-on-one with Kennedy against Matt Gilroy. As Gilroy slides down to take away the pass, Sutter lifts a pedestrian wrister which Lundqvist absorbs.
9:32: On the ensuing facoeff in the left circle, Malkin has Neal positioned behind him for their "quick draw" play but Derek Stepan does a good job of tying up Malkin and preventing the shot.
8:17: After a bad tunover in the neutral zone by Crosby, Richards fires a wrister from the left circle wide to the far side.
8:06: Del Zotto and Crosby races for a puck behind the Rangers' net. Del Zotto has his stick in between Crosby's legs and slams him from behind itno teh boards. Crosby falls to his knees and gives an evil eye to an official. No call.
7:59: The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Neal will serve the minor. Cooke, Sutter, Martin and Oprik take the ice.
7:42: Anton Stralman pumps a slapper from the right point. It hits a stick and deflects wide to the near side.
6:58: Stralman cranks a slapper from the slot through traffic. Vokoun steers it to the right wing boards.
6:17: Richards and Pyatt race for a puck behind the Penguins' net and end up colliding due in part do a check from Cooke. Cooke gets the puck and gets it out of danger.
5:59: The Penguns kill off the penalty. They allowed little to the Rangers.
5:28: Bortuzzo is working with Martin.
4:39: THe great Joe Vitale hustles after a puck in the right wing corner, gets to it and dals a pass to the slot. It hits a stick and bounces to Kennedy who pounds a slapper wide of the cage.
2:49: After a nice cycle down low by Carl Hagelin, Dan Girardi booms a one-timer from the right point. Vokoun eats it up.
2:33: Dupuis snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Lundqvist fights it off.
2:08: A minor mistake by Despres. The Rangers chip the puck into the offensive zone behind the Penguins net. It should be an icing call but former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin Benn Ferriero outhustles Despres, lifts his stick and negates the icing. Despres is able to recover and prevent a shot.That should have been an offensive zone faceoff for the Penguins.
0:57: Gaborik puts a weak wrister on net from the slot. Vokoun steers the rebound to the right wing. Marin recovers the puck and flips a backhanded clear off the glass and up ice. Dupuis picks up the puck and leaves a drop pass for Crosby on the right wing in the neutral zone. Crosby gains the offensive zone and leaves a pass for Kunitz who rips up the right win and puts a high wrister on net. Lundqvist fights it off. A scoring chance created off a nice, simple play off the boards by Martin.
0:11: After a fierce battle behind the net, Neal spins and whips a low wrister on net from the goal line on the right wing. Lundqvist holds it out. Malkin jabs away for a rebound. Staal takes exception and tackles Malkin behind the net. They battle. A scrum ensues. Each goes off for roughing. Four on four for two minutes.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.
-That was a much, much better period for the Penguins after Tuesday's mes. It's wasn't spectacular by any means, but they kept things simple, cut down on mistake and put a few shots on net while limiting the quality scoring chances of the Rangers.
-There were some turnovers on the power play. But overall, it looked better. More structured. It seemed to have an easier time gaining the offensive zone and put a few pucks on net. We'll consider that success.
-The Penguins' penalty kill shut things down for the Rangers after getting shredded by the Islanders.
-The third line looked so much better with Kennedy on it. Outside of injury, that trio should never be broken up.
-Bortuzzo had one rough shift where took a tumble at his blue line and that led to a rush for the Rangers. But he kept things simple for the most part and looked reliable. He had 4:20 of ice time on six shifts.
-Despres had a strong period. He took the body to Pyatt early and created a turnover. And his pass to Malkin was nice. It was right where it needed to be for Malkin to get a clean shot off.
-It looked liek the Penguins were mixing and matching with that left wing on the second line again. Jeffrey and Glass each got some shifts there.
-Martin had a calm, quiet but strong period with a few cool-headed plays in his own zone.
-The Penguins have an 11-6 lead in shots.
-Letang, Malkin and Gaborik each lead the game with two shots.
-Martin leads the game with 9:49 of ice time.
-Del Zotto leads the Rangers with 8:44.
-The Rangers lead in faceoffs, 15-9 (63 percent).
-Richards is 7 for 10 (70 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale is 1 for 2 (50 percent).
-Sutter and Hagelin each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The period will being four on four for 1:49.
19:38: Crosby races up the left wing and booms a slapper from the wall. Lundqvist eats it up. Girardi and Crosby
mix it up behind the net. Crosby takes a tumble. Kunitz jumps on Girardi. Girardi ends up with a roughing minor. Crosby went down a little too easily there. That was Scott Hartnell-esque. The Penguisn end up with a four-on three power play for 1:38. Crosby, letan, Neal and Kunit tk the ice.
19:30: Neal booms a one-timr form the right circle. Lunqvist kicks it out.
18:22: Crosby lifts a wrister form the left circle. Lundqivst steers it away.
18:08: After some bing-bang-boom passing, Crosby fires a one-timer from the slot. Hagelin blocks it and is hobbled a bit. The minors to Malkin and Staal expire.
18:04: Kunitz recovers the puck and deals a pas from the right wing corner to Malkin streaking down the slot. Malkin is denied in tight by Lundqvist. Huge save.
17:38: The Girardi minor is killed. The Penguins missed a big opportunity there with two of New York's better defenders in the penalty box.
15:13: McDonagh lobs a wrister from the left point. Gaborik knocks it down with a high stick. Vokoun eats it up. Nice save but Vokoun but that would not have counted.
14:11: The Rangers get a chance to tie it up as Cooke is called for interference against Jeff Halpern at the Rangers' blue line. Adams, Orpik, Martin and Dupuis take the ice.
14:01: Nash has a chance above the left circle and whistles a wrister wide on the far side.
13:21: Nash turns the puck over in teh left wing corner of the Penguins' zone. Martin recovers it and backhands it down ice for a clear.
12:49: Del Zotto and Glass wrestle for a puck on the right wing boards. Del Zotto hooks him on the leg. That's two minutes for hooking . Four on four for 38 seconds.
12:11: The Cooke minor is killed. The Penguins will have 1:22 of power-play time.
11:17: McDonagh a pushes the puck up deep into the Penguins' zone and flicks a backhander at he net. Malkin blocks it with his stick.
10:55: From the left circle, Crosby forces a pass to Letang on the right wing. Hagelin steals it and pushse the puck o of danger.
10:46: As the Del Zotto minor expires, Derek Stepan races up the left wing an puts a wrister on net from the left circle. Vokoun holds it out. Hagelin digs for a rebound but can't unearth one.
9:10: Engelland chucks a wrister form the left point. it hits a stick and bounces wide on the near side.
8:19: McDonagh steals a puck at the left point and chops a slapper on net. Vokoun steers it away to the right wing corner.
7:25: As Crosby glides up the right wing, Kunitz is hauled down by Hagelin. That's two minutes for interference. Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Kunitz and Neal take the ice. Coming back from the commercial break, assistant coach Tony Granato was interviewed by Root Sports' Dan Potash and called out the Penguins' power play for being "too fancy."
6:03: Malkin chucks a wrister on net from the left half wall. Crosby is in front and appears to re-direct it a bit. Lundqvist stretches out to the left and makes the save. There appeared to be some contact with Crosby.
5:25: The Hagelin minor expires. The Penguins did next to nothing on that one. Their power plays have gotten progressively worse as this game wears on.
5:12: Chasing after Stralman with the puck in the left wing corner of the Rangers' zone, Dupuis whacks Stralman on the right leg. Stralman takes a tumble. That's two minutes for tripping. Cooke, Orpik, Martin and Adams take the ice.
5:03: Del Zotto fires a wrister form the left half wall. Vokoun steers the rebound to the right circle. Nash picks it up, moves in and uncorks a heavy wrister which Vokoun eats up.
3:44: Girardi sneap a slapper form the left point through traffic and wide to the far side.
3:29: Girardi has a chance in the left circle. He hesitates a bit. Once he pulls the trigger, Letang is able to get into position to block the puck.
3:21: A slapper by Richards from the left circle is stopped by Vokoun who gloves the rebound.
3:12: The Dupuis minor expires. The Rangers had a few chances. All were from the perimeter.
2:33: Jeffrey races up the left wing on a two-on-one with Malkin against Girardi. Jeffrey leaves a drop pass for Malkin and rushes to the left wing. Malkin take the puck and forces a bad pass to Jeffrey. Girardi leans down and breks up the pass. Awful decision by Malkin.
0:57: After Stepan fumbles a puck at the let half wall of the Penguins' zone, Dupuis chips it up off the boards. That springs Crosby on a breakaway. He approaches the net, slows down and lifts a wrister over the cage. Lundqvist appeared to get a piece of it. Big-time opportunity he missed there
0:41: The Rangers are called for too many men on the ice. Gaborik will serve the minor. Crosby, eal, letang, Malkina nd Kunitz take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.
-That was more of the same from the Penguins. That said, that period was a bit more frustrating from a Penguins' perspective. They had plenty of chances on the power and did little with them. Overall, the Penguins did a good job of limiting mistakes in their own zone.
-The power play seemed to regress that period. They started to overpass and once again had issues even getting it inot the zone.
-Vokoun had to turn things up that period as he saw a higher quality of shot. He was strong.
-Martin and Orpik were once again strong that period. They look so much better than they did Tuesday.
-Rick Nash has gotten plenty of chances but has done nothing with them.
-Shots are tied, 19-19.
-Crosby leads the game in shots with six.
-Stepan leads the Rangers with four.
-Martin leads the game with 18:06 of ice time.
-Girardi leads the Rangers with 17:30.
-The Rangers lead in faceoffs, 27-23 (54 percent).
-Richards is 12 for 19 (63 percent).
-Crosby is 11 for 21 (52 percent).
-Hagelin leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Letang and Sutter each led the Penguins with two.
20:00: The Penguins will have xx of power-play time on fresh ice to start the period. Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Malkin and Letang take the ice.
19:32: The Penguins switch things up a bit and connect on the power play. Crosby switches with Malkin. From the right half wall , Malkin deals a pass to Crosby at the right point. Crosby slides a shot/pass to Neal just in front of thre crease. Neal is able to re-direct the puck up over the Lundqvist and off the cross bar into the cage. What a pretty play. Crosby and Malkin get assists. Penguins 2-0.
18:48: Sutter has a chance in tight on a re-direction. Lundqvist fights it off.
17:52: After a bad turnover by Despres behind his own cage, Stepan tries to jam in a forehand shot otn the lef wid eof hte cage. No dice. Vokoun holds it out. Despres owes Vokoun a beer.
16:03: Sutter has a chance on the right wing and has his wrister deflected out of play by Staal's stick.
14:16: After a give and go with Jeffrey, Malkin forces a bad pass to Neal on the left point which is broken up. He has to pull the trigger.
14:09: Jeffery lifts a rising wrister form the right circle. Lundqivst punches it away.
13:12: Even if he appears a bit confused, Orpik is still terrfying:
12:28: Staal cranks a slapper from the left point. It hit Gaborik's stick, bounces off the far post and riccochets out. Rangers fans celebrate thinking it's a goal but play continues.
11:46: Despres is called for hooking Hagelin. That was kind of ticky tack. Orpik, Dupuis, Martin and Adams take the ice.
10:18: Stra man booms a slapper from the right point which Sutter blocks.
10:08: Stralman cranks a slapper form the right half wall. Vokoun steers it away.
9:45: Del Zotto fires a slapper from the right half wall which rings off the cross bar.
9:37: The rebound off the Del Zotto shot clanks to the Penguins' slot. Adams chips it up to the neutral zone. As Despres' minor is killed. It crosses the Rangers' blue line. Staal doesn't play it cleanly. Dupuis recovers the puck and chips it to the crease where Despres is hustling out of hte penalty box. Despres moves in on net, goes to his backhand and lifts a shot by a stretched out Lundqvist. What a play. Dupuis and Adams get assists. Penguins 3-0.
7:51: The Penguins get another chance on the power play as Halpern is nabbed for interference. Martin, Neal, Malkin, Crosby and Letang take the ice. With a 3-0 lead, it looks like Bylsma is being gien a chacne to experiment a bit.
7:05: From the right point, Martin one-touches a pass to Malkin at the center point. Malkin dives a one-timer which hits Lundqvist high.
6:36: Martin whacks a slapper from above the left circle. Lundqvist eats it up.
5:49: As the Halpern minor expires, Dupuis fires a slapper which is blocked by Ferriero. Ferriero is hobbled a bit by the shot.
5:24: Strlman booms a slapper from the right point. Vokoun gloves it.
5:01: Crosby is on with Adams and Vitale.
1:59: After a few stagnant minutes, a wrister by Stepan is fought off by Vokoun.
0:00: End of Game. Penguins 3, Rangers 0.
-Amazing how things can change in 48 hours. Two days ago, the world was about to implode. Dan Bylsma couldn't coach. The power play was a disaster. The old Paul Martin had returned. The Penguins were going to fold. Tonight, they're about to schedule another parade down the Boulevard of the Allies.
-The big thing was that the Penguins cut down on their mistakes. They didn't make any crippling turnovers which directly led to scoring chances for the opposition. That was half the battle tonight for the Penguins.
-Tomas Vokoun was very strong. He looked so calm and composed and was very clean with his rebounds. He earned this shutout tonight.
-The power play only got one goal on six chances but that goal proved to be a backbreaker for the Rangers. Additionally the power play appeared to make some progress overall in terms of gaining the offensive zone and establishing some structure. It wasn't great, but it was a step forward.
-The Penguins' penalty kill had a huge rebound. The Rangers, who admittedly are struggling on the power play themselves, had little in teh way of quality looks at the net with the man advantage.
-Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik were fantastic. They saw a lot of the Rick Nash-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik line and really nullifed what that talented trio could do.
-Dustin Jeffrey continued to make his case for staying on Evgeni Malkin's line. Along with James Neal, that trio had plenty of offensive chances. The Penguins' first goal was partially created by Jeffrey simply going to the net. More importantly, Malkin seemed to have confidence in Jeffrey.
-Simon Despres' game wasn't perfectly clean. He had one bad turnover whch led to a third period scoring chance for Derek Stepan. But the positive far out-weighed the minuses for him. He's slowly gotten better as the season has progressed.
-Robert Bortuzzo was hard to notice... and that's a good thing. He's a defensive third pairing defenseman. You'll only notice him if he screws up. He made calm, composed plays and kept things simple. A big debut for him.
-Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis seemed to have a little bit more chemistry than they have most of the season. They created some offensive chances.
-The third line of Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke and Brandon Sutter didn't blow the world away but it looked a lot more cohesive than it has over the past four games.
-The Penguins have beaten the Rangers in six consecutive games. Where did that come from?
-Rick Nash just looked irrelevant tonight. He contributed next to nothing.
-The Rangers' defense actually played a strong game. They limitd a lot of what the Penuing's could do offensively and forced the Penguins to rely on a special teams goal and a goal right off a penalty kill to seal this win.
-The first goal aside, Henrik Lundqvist was strong.
-The Islanders are pretty much the only Atlantic Division team which is any good at the power play. We don't understand the world any longer.
-The Penguins had a 29-28 edge in shots.
-Crosby and Stepan each led the game with six.
-Martin led the game with 26:23 of ice time.
-Dan Girardi led the Rangers with 24:26.
-The Penguins had a 34-33 edge in facecoffs (51 percent).
-Richards was 15 for 27 (58 percent).
-Crosby was 16 for 28 (57 percent).
-Letang, Brian Boyle and Carl Hagelin each led the game with thee blocked shots.
-Malkin (325 assists) moved past Rick Kehoe (324) for seventh-most assists in franchise history.
-Neal moved past Russ Anderson and Randy Hillier for 92nd place on the franchise's all-time scoring list. All three players have 92 points but Neal (46) has more goals than Anderson (15) and Hiller (13).