-Greetings on the first day of the Jussi Jokinen era. The Penguins get back at it a day after having their 15-game winning streak snapped to a poor Buffalo team. Tonight, they're on the road on a Rangers team battling to stay in the postseason race. They're also catching the Rangers as they introduce three new players into the lineup.
-After a few trades, the Rangers now have Ryane Clowe from San Jose and Derrick Brassard and John Moore from Columbus. They also acquired Derek Dorsett from the Blue Jackets but he is sidelined due to a shoulder injury. It's hard to imagine the Rangers not being a bit disorganized tonight.
-According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, these are the Rangers' projected lines tonight:
Ryane Clowe - Brad Richards - Mat Zuccarello
Rick Nash - Derek Step - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin - Derrick Brassard - Brian Boyle
Taylor Pyatt - Darroll Powe - Arron Asham
Michael Del Zott - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonah - Anton Stralman
John Moore - Steve Eminger
-The Marian Gaborik era has come to an end in New York. Gaborik was brought into the Ranger's fold under the gentle nature of former head coach Tom Renney. After Renney was fired and replaced by John Tortorella late in the 2008-09 season, Gaborik just never got on the same page with Tortorella. By many accounts, they had a toxic relationship. It's probably good for all parties involved that Gaborik headed to Columbus.
-Say what you will about the Rangers signing big and bad contracts. They usually find ways to get rid of those contracts.
-According to the team's Web site, the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings will be:
Chris Kunitz - Brandon Sutter - Pascal Dupuis
James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow - Tyler Kennedy - Matt Cooke
Tanner Glass - Joe Vitale - Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik - Deryk Engelland
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Robert Bortuzzo
-After getting thumped in the faceoff circle last night by Buffalo, the Penguins are brining the great Joe Vitale back to the lineup.
-We guess with the Rangers dressing a patch-work lineup, Dan Bylsma can afford to bump Sutter up from the third line and not worry about defensive match-ups as much.
-The Penguins' starters are Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Brandon Sutter, Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Sidney Crosby, Mark Eaton, Dustin Jeffrey and Jussi Jokinen.
-The Rangers' starters are Ryane Clowe, Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman and Henrik Lundqvist.
-Matt Gilroy, Roman Hamrlik and J.T. Miller.
19:49: It doesn't take Clowe to introduce himself to Rangers fans. On a chip and chase play into the Rangers' left wing corner, he slams Engelland into the boards and upends him.
19:39: Clowe gets a scoring chance in tight to the right of the cage. Fleury challenges and kicks out the shot.
18:10: Off an offensive zone faceoff win in the right circle by Richards, Moore flings a wrister from the left point juuuuust wide to the far side.
17:36: The Penguins get the first power play of the game as McDonagh is nabbed for getting a high stick on Cooke in the right wing corner of the New York zone. Cooke appeared to push McDonagh's stick into his face and embellish the call a bit. Malkin, Kunitz, Iginla, Niskanen and Neal take the ice.
16:53: Kunitz gains the offensive zone on the left wing and lifts a wrister off the near post.
16:45: Neal sets up Niskanen at center point for a one-timer. Niskanen chops a shot on net which Lundqvist is able to glove despite traffic.
16:38: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Niskanen pushes a pass from the right point to Iginla above the left circle. Iginla booms a one-timer off the near post.
16:36: Morrow chops a one-timer from the right circle wide to the far side.
15:36: McDonagh's minor is killed. The Penguins put some quality shots on net.
13:51: Engelland settles a puck at the right point and chucks a wrister towards the cage which appears to hit something and deflects wide.
13:37: Getting some space on the right wing, Stepan pumps a wrister on net to the far side. Fleury's stick handle deflects it out of play.
12:56: Ignla has a chance in the slot go off the skate of Stralman.
12:52: A shot from the right point by Bortuzzo is deflected away.
12:21: Engelland chops a shot from the right point on net. Lundqvist hugs the puck against his body.
11:24: Kunitz is nabbed for slashing Eminger in the neutral zone. Sutter, Adams, Murray and Orpik take the ice.
10:25: Del Zotto chops a slapper from the right point which is blocked in front.
9:59: Welcome to New York Derick Brassard. Brassard tries to shoot in the left circle. Engelland slides down block it and forces Brassard to pull his shot down. He then deals a blind backhanded pass to Richards at the left point. Richards hammers a one-timer which appears to be deflected by the stick of Boyle behind Fleury. What a nifty pass by Brassard. The Rangers did a wonderful job of clogging up the shooting lane there. Richards gets credit for the goal while Brassard and Clowe get assists. Rangers 1-0.
9:10: Looks like Bylsma is mixing his lines as he has Malkin take an offensive zone faceoff with Morrow and Kunit zone his wings.
8:12: Richards tries to forecheck Murray behind the Penguins' net as Murray plays a puck around the boards to the right wing corner. Richards ends up on his backside for his troubles.
7:41: The Rangers double their lead. Richards controls the puck down low in the right wing corner. He waits for the play to develop and snaps off a wrister to McDonagh in the slot. McDonagh grips and rips a wrister by Fleury's glove hand for a goal. A poor defensive breakdown there for the Penguins. Morrow appeared to be late in defending McDonagh on the play. Richards and Clowe get assists. Rangers 2-0.
5:57: Stralman is in deep on the right wing and lifts a wrister on net from a tough angle. Fleury fights it off.
5:41: What a debut for Ryane Clowe. Orpik controls the puck to the left of the Penguins' net but loses it on a tenacious forecheck by Stepan. Stepan leave the puck along the goal line to the left of the net. Clowe picks it up, goes backhand and tucks by Fleury's poke check. After being limited to no goals and 11 assists all season with San Jose, Clowe had a goal and two assists in his Rangers debut. Stepan gets the only assist. That was just an awful play. Orpik looked overwhelmed there. Deryk Engelland didn't appear to provide much support. Dan Bylsma calls a time out to get organized. He doesn't looke too happy:
5:11: After a turnover by Niskanen in his own slot, Nash punches a quick shot on net. Fleury kicks it out.
3:26: Off a feed from the great Joe Vitale, Murray booms a one-timer from the left point wide on the near side.
2:16: From the left wing, Callahan feathers a nifty cross-ice pass to Nash on the left wing. Nash lifts a wrister to the near side. Fleury reads the play, stretches to his right and punches it away with his blocker.
1:56: Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the left wing. Lundqvist fights it off.
1:49: Del Zotto is called for tripping Sutter behind the Rangers' net. That's two minutes, Malkin, Iginla, Neal, Kunitz and Niskanen take the ice.
0:32: A loose puck slides to Dupuis above the left circle. He chops a one-timer which hits a leg in front.
0:23: Morrow tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Lundqvist holds it out.
0:08: Despres tries to chip and chase a puck in deep on the left wing but gets slammed to the ice by Powe. Morrow jumps in and shoves Powe to the ice.
0:00: End of period. Rangers 3, Penguins 0.
-What an awful period for the Penguins. With all the injuries and now Eaton's illness, they just didnt' seem to have a ton of chemistry on the blue line. That said, the Rangers have a lot of moving parts in their lineup and it doesn't seem to be impacting their game.
-Special teams were a mess for the Penguins that period. The penalty kill gave up a goal. One of the things which really helped the Penguisn was a pretty aggressive approach on the power play. On the Richards goal, they kind of sat back and allowed the slot to get clogged up with bodies.
-Part of this has to due with Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Eaton out of the lineup. Half of their top six, including two players were were getting mentioned as Norris Tropy candidates, are not playing. That's ... uh ... not good.
-If the Penguins were hoping for an improvement in offensive zone draws after last night, they didn't get it that period. They were 3 for 9 in offensive zone draws in that period.
-The Rangers have a 10-6 lead in shots.
-Clowe leads the game with three.
-Kunitz leads the Penguins with two.
-Del Zotto leads the game with 8:31 of ice time.
-Malkin and Niskanen each lead the Penguins with 7:48.
-The Rangers have a 13-11 lead in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Brassard is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Sutter is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
19:04: Malkin races into the offensive zone, cuts across the slot and whips a backhander from the right circle. Lundqvist eats it up.
18:33: Zuccarello hustles up the right wing and is hooked up by Malkin. Zuccarello falls over. That's two minutes for tripping. Murray, Orpik, Sutter and Adams take the ice.
18:07: The new guys are ripping it up for the Rangers. Girardi booms a one-timer from the right point. It hits Boyle in front and drops him. Brassard is able to settle the puck and lifts a backhander by the blocker of Fleury as Sutter closes in for a hit. Sutter, Orpik and Murray looked lost in space there. The Penguins' penalty kill has been a mess so far tonight. Boyle and Girardi get assists. Rangers 4-0.
17:33: Dupuis isn't giving up. Bortuzzo collects a puck at the right point and chips a shot on net. Lundqvist knocks it dea but allows a poor rebound to his right. Dupuis is right there and lifts a wrister over his blocker and into the cage. Was that a POP (pass off pucks)? Botuzzo and Morrow get assists. It's Morrow's first assist. Rangers 4-1.
15:40: A wrister by Malkin is blocked by Stralman.
13:39: Murray blocks a wrister by fellow Swede Hagelin.
12:45: Richards hammers a one-timer from the right wing. Fleury gloves it.
12:22: After some strong work down low by Stepan, Callahan lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury eats it up.
11:49: A wrister by Boyle on the right wing is blocked out of play by Murray.
11:31: McDonagh chucks a wrister from the left point on net. Fleury knocks it dead and covers.
10:17: Iginla appears to hook up Girardi in the left wing corner of the New York zone. Girardi appears to dive. No calls.
9:03: Bortuzzo tees up a slapper from the right circle. Powe squares up and blocks it.
8:42: Cooke hacks he skates of Powe in the Rangers' right faceoff circle. Powe takes a tumble a little too easily. Cooke heads to the box for tripping. Cooke and Asham get 10-minute misconduct penalties after they mixed it up following the Cooke penalty. Glass heads to the dressing room. Sutter, Orpik, Adams and Murray take the ice.
8:08: This is ugly. Richards chops a slapper from the right point. It hits a few bodies on the way to the net. Brassard is in front of the blue paint. He settles the puck and tucks a subtle little backhanded pass to Clowe all alone on the back door. Clowe slams it into the wide open cage. THe Penguins' penalty kill is in complete disarray right now. Brassard and Boyle get assists. Rangers 5-1.
6:28: Off a win by Sutter in the left circle, Dupuis snaps off a wrister from the circle which is blocked.
4:45: Neal settles a puck in the left cirlce and rips a wrister on net. Lundqvist makes the tricky save.
4:39: Niskanen booms a loose puck at the right point. Lundqvist fights it off. Malkin is there for the rebound but tumbles before he can get a shot off.
1:56: Boyle snaps off a wrister from the left circle which Fleury fights off.
0:06: Girardi cranks a slapper from the right point wide to the far side.
0:00: End of period. Rangers 5, Penguins 1.
-Can the Penguins go back to March? April has been pretty dreadful thus far.
-Some of what is happening makes sense. The Penguins are playing without three of their better defensive defensemen.
-A lot of his completely defies logic. The Rangers' best offensive weapons are playing their first games for the team. According to NBC broadcaster, Brassard showed up at 6:50 p.m. for a 7 p.m. warm up.
-The Penguins' penalty kill is getting shredded. It looks completely different without Eaton.
-Lots is being made over Crosby's absence but we think the absence of Letang, Martin and Eaton has more to do with it. The Penguins' blue line looks completely overwhelmed.
-The offensive zone faceoffs are dreadful. The Penguins are 6 for 16 in offensive draws (37.5 percent).
-The Rangers lead in shots, 22-17.
-Clowe leads in shots with five.
-Despres leads the Penguins with three.
-Stepan leads the game with 16:08 of ice time.
-Malkin leads the game with 14:56 of ice time.
-The Rangers have a 27-21 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Brassard is 9 for 13 (69 percent).
-Sutter is 10 for 16 (63 percent).
-Stepan and Murray each lead the game with two blocked shots.
18:05: Boyle chops a slapper from the left circle which hits Bortuzzo's stick and hops to the right wing corner.
16:43: Kunitz gets a chance with some space in the left circle and snaps off a wrister wide to the far side.
16:22: Nash challenges Niskanen one-on-one. He tries this backwards bullrush move but Niskanen fends him off and separates the puck.
16:13: Richards whacks a slapper from above the left circle on net. Fleury punches it away with his blocker.
15:45: Off a pass from behind the net from Clowe, Zuccarello snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Fleury snags it.
15:17: Malkin challenges Stralman one-on-one in the left circle. Stralman stands him up and drops Malkin to the ice.
14:59: Neal snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Lundqvist fights it off. Malkin is all alone with the rebound in the slot but before he can lift a backhanded shot, Clowe backchecks and lifts Malkin's stick to prevent the shot.
13:41: Asham and Glass continue their rivalry as they drop the gloves at center ice. They lock up and battle in tight with a bunch of rights. They pump a few punches at one another and gravitate towards the Rangers' bench. They settle down, appear to acknowledge on another out of respect and head to their penalty boxes.
12:14: Murray pushes a shot on net from the left circle. Kunitz stops it with his stick and directs a backhander on net. Lundqvist is swimming in his crease and stops the shot with his backside. Rangers fans respond with "HEENNN-REEEK! HEENNN-REEEK!" chats.
10:13: Another one of the new guys scores. John Moore takes a pass at the left point, tees up a slapper and wires a shot to the far side. It glances off Cooke's stick, brushes on the underside of Fleury's glove and sneaks into the cage. Despite the contact with Cooke's stick, Fleury needs to make that save. We can't recall three new players stepping into a team's lineup and scoring at will like this. Boyle and Brassard get assists. Rangers 6-1.
9:01: Neal chops a little slapper from the left circle on net. Lundqvist deflects it out of play with his lid.
8:10: Off a turnover by Engelland in his own zone, Callahan puts a wrister on net from the left wing. Fleury fights it off.
7:43: Del Zotto cranks a slapper from the left point. It hits off Orpik's left skate. Hagelin settles the rebound and whips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury eats it up with his glove hand and the whistle blows. He then whacks the puck out of mid air with his stick. Was that a message to his teammates? Orpik is called for cross checking. Sutter, Adams, Bortuzzo and Murray take the ice.
6:50: The Rangers have Asham and Powe, two fourth-liners on the power play. So of course that leads to two-on-two rush with Asham setting up Powe for a chance in tight. Fleury challenges and forces a shot high.
5:43: The Orpik minor is killed. The Rangers didn't really press the attack that much.
4:36: Neal drops Girard behind the New York net.
2:48: Callahan lifts a wrister from above the left circle. Fleury bats it away. The rebound hops behind the goal line. Callahan gets to it before Engelland, turns and deals to McDonagh in the left circle. McDonagh lifts a wrister which Fleury snags with his glove hand.
1:36: Boyle barges in of the left wing and attacks the net. His shot hops over the cage.
0:43: Engelland settles a puck at the left half wall and snaps off a wrister to the far side. Lundqvist's left skate kicks it out.
0:00: End of period. Rangers 5, Penguins 1.
-Well that stunk. The Rangers were just a better team in every aspect of the game tonight. They had a lot more jump for a variety of reasons. They got to loose pucks most of the time. They won most of the puck battles. They operated at will in the Penguins' zone. Plain and simple, this was a butt-kicking.
-The part which was the most startling to us was how feeble the Penguins looked in their own zone. The Rangers just outworked them. The got better positioning around the net. They hustled for loose pucks or in one-on-one puck battles. The Penguins looked really sluggish in their own zone. It's a far cry compared to how they defended during March.
-It's not an excuse to acknowledge the absence of Kris Letang, Mark Eaton and Paul Martin tonight. It's simple reality. Those are three of your best defensive defensemen. Robert Bortuzzo played his first NHL game since February. How in the world could he reasonably be expected to offset any of those losses?
-Sidney Crosby's absence was a killer in all aspects. You have to imagine if he was available for a few faceoffs, the Penguins don't have as much trouble in their own zone.
-Give the Rangers all due credit. They weren't exactly playing with optimal conditions either. They had three new players in the lineup, two of whom, Derrick Brassard and John Moore, showed up less than a hour before the game. Yet they found a way to contribute in a big way. The Rangers earned this win in every way.
-The upside of introducing three new players the way the Rangers did was the injection adrenaline Brassard, Clowe and Moore presumably had with their first game in New York. Also, the Rangers are battling to say in the playoff race. They are in a more desperate situation than the Penguins.
-Marc-Andre Fleury's critics will jump on his for this game but if you watched even five minutes of this game, you would realize how little help he received. Only one goal, which glanced off Matt Cooke's stick, could be reasonably blamed on Fleury. Fleury was left out to dry by his team's wretched defense tonight.
-Deryk Engelland and Brooks Orpik had a rough game as a pairing. They looked slow and less than comfortable with one another. Regardless of the team's health moving forward, the Penguins should probably avoid using them as a pair.
-How valuable is does Mark Eaton look after tonight? The Penguins' penalty kill is now 73 for 94 (76.8 percent) when Eaton is out of the lineup. It's 35 for 40 (87.5 percent) with him in the lineup.
-Brandon Sutter got some time up front with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. He was only marginally better than the combo Tyler Kennedy or Dustin Jeffrey on the top line last night. That trio just didn't have it going.
-Even if they were sloppy with the puck at times, the James Neal-Evgeni Malkin-Jarome Iginla line had a strong showing. They generated the most sustained offense by the Penguins tonight.
-Offensive zone faceoffs were ugly for the Penguins again as they went 8 for 21 (38.1 percent). The lone bright spot was Malkin who went 5 for 8 (62.5 percent).
-Turnovers were a killer for the Penguins too. They were sloppy with the puck in all three zones but it seemed they were even worse in their own zone.
-The fact that Brassard, Clowe and Moore contributed to the offense as they did in their first game with the Rangers simply defied convention. That was just bizarre.
-The power play looked pretty stale. There just wasn't a ton of cohesion with the different looks Dan Bylsma had to employ tonight.
-Iginla played only 3:38 in the third period on five shifts. Brenden Morrow only had 4:14 on six shifts. Presumably, with a blowout game, Byslma rested them to spare them some wear and tear.
-The Rangers led in shots, 39-27.
-Neal Ryan Callahan led the game with five shots.
-Arron Asham and Darroll Powe were the only Rangers skaters who failed to get a shot on net.
-Michael Del Zotto led the game with 25:33 of ice time.
-Malkin led the Penguins with 21:14.
-The Rangers led in overall faceoffs, 36-28 (56 percent).
-Brassard was 11 for 18 (73 percent).
-Sutter was 11 for 20 (55 percent).
-Simon Despres led the game with three blocked shots.
-Derek Stepan led the Rangers with two blocked shots.
-Malkin (452) passed Aleksey Morozov (451) surpassed Aleksey Morozov for most games played by a Russian/Soviet Union born player in franchise history.