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Penguins at Rangers Game Seven Preview: Now Or Never

Win or “The Last Run” is done.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang vs. New York Rangers' Frank Vatrano- Stanley Cup Playoffs
Photo by NHLI/Getty Images. Graphic by PR.

2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One, Game Seven: Penguins at Rangers in New York, NY


Game Seven: It's now or never for the Pens, quite literally. They either win or "The Last Run", the potential final playoffs with Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin as Pittsburgh Penguins is finished. Neither player currently have deals in place for next year with the team and are set to become free agents this summer.


If the Pittsburgh Penguins do not win tonight the "Sidney Crosby era" as we know it might be over with those two players potentially exiting. What the future will entail for this team and how competitive it can be with Sid alone if Letang and Malkin depart remains the key unanswered question.


Sid’s signed until 2025 so he’s not going anywhere but the idea that the Penguins can remain contenders if a duo that Crosby won three Stanley Cups in eight years with walks out the door seems unlikely. That’s a lot of talent to replace. Generational players like Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin don't just grow on trees. And the options that are available to try to fill their void are slim to none.


The Pens have to win tonight to keep the dynasty going.


Luckily, they have everything lining up in their favor to do so. They're leading the stats in this series as you’ll see below and putting up league-leading analytics these playoffs.


The team will have nearly every weapon in their arsenal to do it: Sidney Crosby, Tristan Jarry, and Rickard Rakell are all set to return to play tonight. Jarry will make his 2022 playoff debut and this series just might rest on his shoulders.


Tristan Jarry is indeed the most key return to watch for as he's facing a very difficult scenario. He's expected to start in a winner take all game while coming off of a four to six week injury he's only in the low range (four weeks exactly) of rehabbing from.


Oh, and right now Jarry has fewer career playoff wins to his name than third-string goalie Louis Domingue, who has been holding the net spot. Their career playoff records:

-Louis Domingue: 3-3-0, 3.45 GAA, .902 SV%

-Tristan Jarry: 2-5-0, 2.90 GAA, .894 SV%


That's not because Louis is a better goalie. This Penguins team has simply been miraculous in front of him, Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby especially. And he played heroically with the relief goaltending talent he has. New York has also played very poorly as a whole during the wins Domingue got. But NHL starting goalie form is not there with Louis and neither is the ability to make the simple save in a clutch moment- the most important defining quality of a goaltender in the playoffs. So a hastily-recovered Tristan Jarry it has to be.


And that puts Tristan Jarry in a very tough spot. Before his current injury, he was 1-4-0 in his last five games. The season-long workload piling up seemed to be an issue for him. Now he needs to jump in cold, play well right off his return from this ailment, and exorcise his notorious playoff demons in one single game. And it's an elimination game that might end an era for the Pittsburgh Penguins on top of everything else. That's a big deal. No Pens goalie has faced such playoff pressure since Marc-Andre Fleury had to try to prove the Penguins were legit Cup contenders in 2009. It's a high-stakes, high-pressure situation. Few goalies can deal with a spotlight that hot on such a grand stage.


Whether or not Jarry can handle that pressure is going to be a massive part of the equation for the Pens' chances of winning. I do not envy him right now. I think he's got it in him to win in the playoffs far lesser goalies have and his regular season highs have been brilliant but the mountain is tall for him today.


And Jarry will potentially unfairly shoulder a lot of the blame if the team can't perform. Being a goalie is genuinely for a rare breed of people. Not everyone is built for it but let's hope Tristan Jarry is.


Now let's dive into the rest of the details for tonight!


Game Info:

Pens 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One, Game Seven-

Matchup: Pittsburgh Penguins (3) at New York Rangers (3)

Date: Sunday, May 15, 2022

Time: 7 PM (ET)

Place: New York, NY

Venue: Madison Square Garden

TV Broadcasts: National- TBS | Local- ATTSN (PIT), MSG (NYR) | Canadian- CBC, SN, TVAS

Radio Broadcasts: Local- 105.9 The X & The Penguins Radio Network | National- SiriusXM

Streaming Broadcasts: Broadcast TV over select streaming services, next day on ESPN+

App Updates: Penguins App

Social Media Hashtags #⃣: #Pens #NYR #LetsGoPens #StanleyCup


Team Matchup:

Series: 3-3 Tie

Team Streaks: PIT- 2 Losses, NYR- 2 Wins

Power Play % (Rank): PIT- 22.2% (8th), NYR- 33.3% (3rd)

Penalty Kill % (Rank): PIT- 66.7% (14th), NYR- 77.8% (9th)

Faceoff % (Rank): PIT- 57.8% (1st), NYR- 42.2% (16th)

Goals For/Game (Rank): PIT- 4.33 (2nd), NYR- 4.00 (4th)


Player Matchup:

Series Stats Leaders-

Goals: Jake Guentzel, 7.

Assists: Sidney Crosby/Jake Guentzel, 7.

Points: Sidney Crosby/Jake Guentzel/Adam Fox (NYR), 9.

Shots: Jake Guentzel, 34.

Plus/Minus: John Marino/Kasperi Kapanen/Jacob Trouba (NYR), +4.

TOI/G: Kris Letang, 29:59.

FO%: Teddy Blueger, 70.2%.

Hits: Jacob Trouba (NYR), 24.

Blocks: Kris Letang, 17.

Takeaways: K’Andre Miller (NYR), 11


Penguins Leaders-

Goals: Jake Guentzel, 7.

Assists: Sidney Crosby, 7.

Points: Sidney Crosby/Jake Guentzel, 9.

Shots: Jake Guentzel, 34.

Plus/Minus: John Marino/Kasperi Kapanen, +4.

TOI/G: Kris Letang, 29:59.

FO%: Teddy Blueger, 70.2%.

Hits: Jason Zucker, 20.

Blocks: Kris Letang, 17.

Takeaways: Sidney Crosby, 9.


Rangers Leaders-

Goals: Andrew Copp/Chris Kreider, 4.

Assists: Mika Zibanejad/Adam Fox, 6.

Points: Adam Fox, 9.

Shots: Ryan Strome, 26.

Plus/Minus: Jacob Trouba, +4.

TOI/G: Adam Fox, 27:58.

FO%: Kevin Rooney, 47.6%.

Hits: Jacob Trouba, 24.

Blocks: Jacob Trouba, 11.

Takeaways: K’Andre Miller, 11.


Goalie Matchup:

{Projected starting goalie comparisons]

All signs point to Tristan Jarry returning to play today, but given it's a return from a long-term injury consider this as the projected starter on the Penguins end:

#35- Tristan Jarry, Penguins-

Series Record: Debut

Career Playoff Record: 2-5-0, 2.90 GAA, .894 SV%

Career Record vs. Rangers: 6-5-0, 2.86 GAA, .899 SV%

Last 5 Games Record: 1-4-0

~VS~

#31- Igor Shesterkin, Rangers-

Series Record: 3-2-0, 3.82 GAA, .906 SV%

Career Playoff Record: 3-3-0, 3.72 GAA, .906 SV%

Career Record vs. Penguins: 5-3-1, 2.11 GAA, .924 SV%

Last 5 Games Record: 3-2-0


Pens Bullets Points:

[What's needed to win]

  • Play Like It’s The Last Run- Because for all we know it is. There are no extensions in place for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang right now. Management hasn't even given much word on whether they're even in the pipeline. Florida and Montreal may be calling them respectively. This could be their last game as Pittsburgh Penguins! These Pens have got to go out like the lions they have been and not lambs- whatever it takes. Just for those two players and all they've given this team and city over nearly two decades here.

  • Minimize Penalties- New York is going to run people, they're going to take shots at the Pens that will not be called. Still, the Penguins cannot retaliate, not in this game. They can't do what Evan Rodrigues did in Game Six and react back. Their tempers need to be kept in check. The Penguins always go to the box in those scenarios. They need to be careful with weak, lazy penalties as well- no stick penalties, no tripping. Pittsburgh must play a clean game to capitalize on their analytical superiority.

  • Play To Their Potential- They can beat the Rangers. They've done it for three games without their top two goalies (Jarry & DeSmith), a top six forward who was their main deadline acquisition (Rakell), and their top-pair defenseman (Dumoulin). They were better than New York then, they are better than New York now. They just have to execute. The Penguins can only beat themselves tonight.

Net Notes:

[Extra misc. info]

-One key point to remember is that the Penguins are 6-0 all-time on the road in Game Seven. The last time they had to win a Game Seven on the road was 2017 vs. Washington. That year ended well: in a second consecutive and fifth overall Stanley Cup.


-Brian Boyle (F) is now out injured due to an injury sustained in Game Six. However, he likely would have been a candidate to be scratched even if healthy with Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell returning at forward.


-Brian Dumoulin (D) is still not skating and is not expected to play or return in the next few days at least.


-Should the Pens advance to Round Two for the first time in four years and perhaps the final time with the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang trio they'll face a perfect storybook opponent: former "Big Five" Pens core member with that trio (along with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury) Jordan Staal and his Carolina Hurricanes.


-A reminder if you're watching on national TV in the US: the game will air on TBS and it's the Pens debut on that channel.

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