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Penguins at Rangers - Game 2 - 04-18-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-A lot has been made over the past two days about the Penguins crashing in on Henrik Lundqvist. Ultimately, this is just gamesmanship. The Rangers are trying to buy an extra call or two for Game 2 while the Penguins are trying to rattle Lundqvist a bit.

-During the team's media availability yesterday, Mike Johnston explained that NHL officials they would focus on watching contact in the crease:

"We meet with the series supervisor before the series starts and [he] just talks about the standards and keeping the standards very similar to the way it was during the season obviously making sure that all goaltenders are protected through the playoffs because of the critical nature of your starting goaltender. But that was made clear for sure."

-There was quite a bit of focus via social media on Sidney Crosby's action for one play during Game 1. In the second period, he went offside by a good distance on a rush up ice by Rob Scuderi:

-The body language doesn't look good on that at all so there was a lot of speculation that Crosby went offside on purpose. After today's morning skate, Crosby was asked directly what happened on the play:

-Crosby explained,"Yeah, I thought he was going to dump it [into the offensive zone]."

-Patric Hornqvist had a pretty interesting thought on the Penguins' forecheck:

“We have to get our forecheck going. [Game 1] was not good enough. We were too spread out and that's why we didn't create a lot of scoring chances. We have to get that better.”

-Looking back, it's hard to pinpoint any time when any Rangers' defensemen were in danger behind their goal line while recovering a puck. With Dan Girardi dealing with the effects of a sore jaw, getting some pressure on him in particular couldn't be the worst thing.

-We went through some old game sheets and came across an interesting statistic. Here are the Rangers' all-time leading goal scorers in playoff games against the Penguins:

 

Player, position Goals
Derick Brassard, C 5
Mark Messier, C 5
Brian Leetch, D 4
Tomas Sandstrom, RW 3
Niklas Sundstrom, RW 3
Jaromir Jagr, RW 3
Kris King, LW 3

-Derick Brassard. Penguin killer.

 

Live Blog Penguins - Rangers Game 2 chat
 

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About the Rangers - Game 2 - 04-18-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Rangers.

When and where: 825 p.m., EDT. Madison Square Garden.

TV: NBC, CBC, TVA.

Leading postseason scorers: Center Derrick Brassard and defenseman Ryan McDonagh, 1 point (1 goal, 0 assists) each.

Last Game: 2-1 home win in Game 1 Thursday. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves for the Rangers.

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (0-1-0, 2.03 GAA, .947 SV%) for the Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist (1-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .960 SV%) for the Rangers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defensemen Derrick Pouliot ("upper body"), Christian Ehrhoff (suspected concussion) and Kris Letang (concussion) are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (right shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Rangers, defenseman Kevin Klein (forearm) is out.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not have formal line rushes at today's morning skate. These were their primary lines and pairings during Game 1:

26 Daniel Winnik - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14 Chris Kunitz - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 39 David Perron
19 Beau Bennett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
13 Nick Spaling - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 17 Blake Comeau

7 Paul Martin - 12 Ben Lovejoy
4 Rob Scuderi - 27 Ian Cole
8 Brian Dumoulin - 44 Taylor Chorney

-The Rangers had an optional morning skate. Their primary lines and pairs during Game 2 were:

61 Rick Nash - 16 Derick Brassard - 36 Mats Zuccarello (above)
20 Chris Kreider - 21 Derek Stepan - 10 J.T. Miller
62 Carl Hagelin - 13 Kevin Hayes - 26 Martin St. Louis
15 Tanner Glass - 28 Dominic Moore - 19 Jesper Fast

27 Ryan McDonagh - 5 Dan Girardi
18 Marc Staal - 22 Dan Boyle
93 Keith Yandle - 44 Matt Hunwick

Notes:

-The last time the Penguins played the Rangers, this happened:

-Ehrhoff and Pouliot participated in the morning skate but will not play. Coach Mike Johnston referred to them as "day to day."

-The game will be delayed so NBC can broadcast the NHL's draft lottery at 8 p.m.

-The referees are Chris Rooney (No. 5) and Frederick L'Ecuyer (No. 17). The linesmen are Mark Shewchyuk (No. 92) and Brian Murphy (No. 93). The standby referee Steve Kozari (No. 40).

-Our live chat begins at approximately 7 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photos: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

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Hornqvist on Lundqvist: 'We didn't even touch him' - 04-18-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Yesterday, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was critical of the Penguins for making contact with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (above, with Penguins center Maxim Lapierre) during Game 1. Vigneault said, "There's a willingness to go there and disturb. There was a lot of stuff from certain of their players we knew that was going to happen after the whistle."

Following their morning skate today, the Penguins disputed Vigneault's claims.

Patric Hornqvist, right winger - "We didn't even touch him. The puck was never there. I don't know where they found the contact on their goalie but obviously, we have to be careful around the net. You see the other games, they call goaltender inference. Obviously, they want to protect the goalies on both sides. But I don't think we did a bad job on Lundqvist the last game. The puck was never there so I don't think we had a chance to get there."

Sidney Crosby, center - "I think we'd like to get there more to be honest with you. I think we're finding ways to get those second, third opportunities. We can definitely do that without touching the goalie. He doesn't really challenge a ton anyway. It's not like he's usually a foot or two outside the crease. I think where we are is pretty good. I think we've just got to make sure that we find those second and third opportunities. I thought we did a good job of staying away from him. I'm sure he's just trying to protect him and make guys aware of it. But we did a good job of staying away from him."

Mike Johnston, head coach - "I think the referees have taken a stance heading into all [playoff series] as you saw by the first call on [left winger Chris Kunitz in Game 1] that they're going to clamp down. A lot of the stuff that happened with Lundqvist for me was the loose puck in the crease and our guys are going after a loose puck. It's sitting there. It's available and players have free reign to play that puck. That's they way it is. I didn't see other than the [Kunitz] one where the puck wasn't there and we actual bumped or hindered Lundqvist from moving in the net. I didn't think there was any of that."

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Crowded crease - 04-18-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-“We’re trying to shoot from everywhere, so, hopefully, we catch him off-guard." - David Perron on shooting against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

-“In that line, you had a good combination of guys with speed, they were good on the forecheck. Obviously, they scored the goal but I thought generally, the shifts they played, they really created when they were out there.” - Mike Johnston on the fourth line of Blake Comeau, Maxim Lapierre and Nick Spaling.

-"Right now, we know we that we can beat the Rangers if we play our game and use our skillset. We're going to have to come in tomorrow and look at them in the eye and know that we can beat them. That's the way we're going to win this series." - Maxim Lapierre.

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Paul Martin speaks:

-Rangers coach Alain Vigneault isn't happy with the Penguins crashing his team's crease.

-Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi resumed practicing after taking a puck in the jaw during Game 1.

-A year after Vigneault called him a "very good minor leaguer," Rangers forward J.T. Miller has become a pretty fair top-six NHL winger.

-After the Jump: Canucks-Flames gets ugly.

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Vigneault unhappy with Penguins crashing Lundqvist - 04-17-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Just about every playoff series has some form of gamesmanship. The rules get skirted a little bit here to throw an opponent off. Coaches or players say something in the media to get under the skin of the other team or to get the officials' attention.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault offered the first chapter of gamesmanship today when he criticized the Penguins for crashing goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in Thursday's Game 1, a 2-1 home win for the Rangers.

In the first period, Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz was called for goaltender interference after he made contact with Lundqvist while battling with defenseman Marc Staal. And in the second period, left winger Blake Comeau scored the Penguins' lone goal after center Maxim Lapierre appeared to make some contact with Lundqvist:

After his team's practice today at it's training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., Vigneault talked about the Penguins' crashing the crease.

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On the Penguins making contact with Lundqvist:

"[Lundqvist] plays in the blue paint. When he gets hit, the blue paint is the goaltender. There's a willingness to go there and disturb. There was a lot of stuff from certain of their players we knew that was going to happen after the whistle. We hope the referees are going to see it and call it. We're going to play whistle to whistle and be a very disciplined team."

Do you plan on talking to officials about it?

"I would hope that I don't need to. Anybody who has followed the Rangers the last 10 years with Henrik in goal know that he's one of the goaltenders who plays in the blue paint. The league has a mandate to protect the goaltenders. If he gets bumped or hit, it's the referee's responsibility and the league's responsibility to make sure he's protected. But this is something we've gone through for 82 games and it's something we've gone through for 82 games and it's something that we've gone through for each playoff game we have played. It's nothing new. It's there and you deal with it."

Do your defensemen need to do a better job at preventing the Penguins from skating to the crease?

"They can do the best job they can and they are trying to but at some point, it's only so much a guy can do when [an opponent] is skating through the blue. So that's when the referees got to to their job."

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Lundqvist was more diplomatic with how the Penguins crashed in on him:

“This time of the year, you have to expect more traffic and more people in front. They're definitely going to try to pay the price to take chances and score goals. It's nothing new. It's tough to prepare for. A lot communications with the [defensemen] to help box out guys so I can see the puck.

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Penguins coach Mike Johnson, who spoke before Vigneault at the Penguins' hotel, also discussed the officiating and how goaltenders are protected.

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How do you get your team to take fewer penalties?

“This time of the year, you want to battle, you want to compete. But you have to take it. You have to take it. If something happens in a game where you get hit, you get a punch, you get a stick, those types of things, you just have to take it. Your discipline has to be right on line. We know what the [referees] are going to call. They've made it clear what they're going to call for this playoff series. The standard are very similar to the [regular season] but they're going to hold those standards strict. And you saw right away with the goaltenders, they're going to protect the goaltenders. The call on Kunitz was kind of a gray area one but still, that's what they're going to call. They've made it clear they're going to call that. So the standard has been set and our players have to make sure they adjust to that and still maintain that compete."

Did you meet with officials before hand to go over the rules?

"We meet with the series supervisor before the series starts and [he] just talks about the standards and keeping the standards very similar to the way it was during the season obviously making sure that all goaltenders are protected through the playoffs because of the critical nature of your starting goaltender. But that was made clear for sure."

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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