Rangers vs. Penguins Game Three Preview: Series Changer
DeSmith getting shutdown for the season makes this a whole new series for the Pens.
2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One, Game Three: Penguins vs. Rangers in Pittsburgh, PA
We're jumping straight into some of the info and updates ahead of Game Three to prep you for the Pens playoff return to PPG Paints Arena:
DeSmith Is Done
The Penguins announced yesterday that backup turned #1 goalie Casey DeSmith had core muscle surgery after the injury he sustained in Game One vs. the Rangers and is done for the year. Now #3 goalie Louis Domingue just might have to win this series. That or at least hold the fort down to Games Six or Seven when Tristan Jarry might be in the range of a potential return from a fractured foot. Jarry skated for the first time this morning before practice. It's estimated he'll need several days of practice before he gets into a game, so this is an encouraging development but still leaves a long road ahead until Jarry has reached full fitness to play.
#3 To #1
The Pens will have to utilize all their immense offensive talents to make up for this massive liability on the back end of having their #3 goalie suddenly plunged into the heat of the NHL playoffs. And in what is only his third-ever game as a Penguin. It's a lot to ask of Louis Domingue to essentially become a playoff legend and perform stellar enough to win this round by himself. Setting the bar that high can't automatically be expected even though Domingue has looked serviceable thus far. So the Penguins' skaters have got to do the heavy lifting and lead the way instead. Louis has played decently for the situation but he's in a role that's way over his head and only human. (Before this season Domingue only had one game of playoff experience ever- he was on the ice for about 18 minutes for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017-18. He did make all seven saves he faced though.)
Mike Matheson had a massive Game Two breakdown. Two New York goals were his direct responsibility. There's not much to say other than he's likely the biggest reason the Penguins lost that game. A puck went off of him while he was net front for a Rangers goal as he also screened the vision of his goalie. He followed that up by making an atrocious attempt at throwing a weak check in the middle of a defensive play while on skating the back stride with a Ranger coming forward toward him. He was promptly shaken off for a goal and left Louis Domingue hanging out to dry with no defender in front of him. Game Two might have been Matheson's worst outing as a Pittsburgh Penguin. And that's saying something considering the bumpy start he had with the team.
Lineup questions abound for tonight's Game Three as the game day skate was optional and everyone was labeled a "game-time decision" according to coach Mike Sullivan. So whether defenseman Brian Dumoulin or forwards Rickard Rakell and Jason Zucker will return to play is unknown.
Back In The Burgh
In better news Game Three is finally in the home barn, so get hyped! Playoff hockey returns to the Burgh in its full glory for the first time since the pandemic of 2020. The big screen is back, the building will be packed, and it's truly a "Hockey Night in Pittsburgh!"
Now here are the rest of the details for the big game:
Pens Playoff Game #3-
Matchup: Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. New York Rangers (1)
Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
TV Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN (PIT), MSG (NYR) | National- TNT | Canada- 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 stat comparisons-)
Series: 1-1 Tie Team
Streaks: PIT- 1 Loss, NYR- 1 Win
Power Play % (Rank): PIT- 16.7% (8th), NYR- 40% (2nd)
Penalty Kill % (Rank): PIT- 60% (15th), NYR- 83.3% (9th)
Faceoff % (Rank): PIT- 53.1% (2nd), NYR- 46.9% (15th)
Goals For/Game (Rank): PIT- 3 (8th), NYR- 4 (5th)
(*Rankings among playoff teams)
(Stat leaders by team-)
Goals: Jake Guentzel, 2.
Assists: Sidney Crosby/Bryan Rust, 2.
Points: Bryan Rust, 3.
TOI: Kris Letang, 46:41.
Hits: Mike Matheson/Kasperi Kapanen, 4.
Blocks: Brian Boyle/Kris Letang/Mike Matheson, 3.
Takeaways: Jake Guentzel, 4.
Goals: Chris Kreider/Andrew Copp/Adam Fox, 1.
Assists: Mika Zibanejad, 2.
Points: Chris Kreider/Mika Zibanejad, 2.
TOI: Adam Fox/K'Andre Miller, 44:28.
Hits: Ryan Reaves, 8.
Blocks: Adam Fox, 6.
Takeaways: 5-way tie, 3.
(Projected starting goalie comparisons-)
#70- Louis Domingue, Penguins-
Series Record: 1-1, 4.05 GAA, .912 SV%
Career Record vs. Rangers: 3-1-0, 2.73 GAA, .906SV%
Last 5 Games Record: 1-4-0
#31- Igor Shesterkin, Rangers-
Series Record: 1-1-0, 2.17 GAA, .952 SV%
Career Record vs. Penguins: 5-3-1, 2.11 GAA, .924 SV%
Last 5 Games Record: 3-2-0
Pens Bullet Points:
(What's needed to win-)
Actually Insulate Louis Domingue: Again same top bullet point as for Game Two, except really do it this time. As we saw in the last game the Pens have to stay in a better defensive formation around Louis to give him the best chance at succeeding. They didn't do that in their last outing and it showed on the scoreboard. Their most critical issue was their inability to clear the slot. Three goals went in on screens or redirections that Domingue didn't have a chance on. New York was able to make the pocket collapse in on the Pens' net with little resistance. On the rare occasions where the Penguin defense did put up a fight, they always seemed to do it right in the crease causing Louis to not be able to play his position. On a better note, when Domingue was able to see shots coming in cleanly he put up a solid performance. He's playing solidly enough to win if he gets a decent team ahead of him.
Seize The Moment Now: Point blank: the Penguins are going to lose this series if they do not get moving NOW. And that would be horrific because despite everything fate has thrown at them in these playoffs- they can win this. The majority of the first two games showed us that they can keep pace with the Rangers and even answer back, tie, and rally for a clutch win. All without their starting goalie, their #2 defenseman, and two of their top six forwards for the majority of that time! That is a good team. Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin are all playing really good playoff hockey. The Penguins cannot waste that. But if they continue to lag from set-backs, to make unforced errors, and to allow New York to get rolling the momentum will swing too wide in the Rangers' favor and this thing will be over. The Pens have to play like every second of the series from this point on is elimination time. There is no Game Three- it's all Game Sevens, all the time now.
Equity: The Penguins also need more contributions from players beyond the aforementioned Crosby, Rust, Guentzel, Malkin, and Letang. New York's roster has points spread up and down their lines. As of now, they look like the more evenly balanced team. The Penguins' depth has got to show up to refute that notion. Jeff Carter, Danton Heinen, and Brock McGinn were brought in specifically for their past play in the playoffs. They have to be factors. Kasperi Kapanen is a top 20 player in expected goals these playoffs. He needs to convert those into real goals. We have to see more from Teddy Blueger and Evan Rodrigues who have been difference-makers in the regular season but are blanking right now.
Stay Healthy: This one is self-explanatory. Not getting hurt any more than they already have must be the Pens' second objective just behind winning games considering their extensive injury situation. The Penguins simply cannot afford to lose anyone else.
(Extra misc. info-)
-Coach Mike Sullivan is one win from tying Dan Bylsma in all-time Penguins playoff wins for a head coach at 43.
-Sidney Crosby's next goal will tie him with Alex Ovechkin for the most playoff goals of any active player at 71. (And as I always say next in the goal comparisons involving these two- now go look up the most points, individual awards, team wins, and Cup wins as well for the more accurate overall picture.)
-Sid's also one point from tying Henri Richard for second in all-time playoff points vs. the Rangers at 26. Considering Crosby has four points in two games already you can probably expect to see this milestone reached tonight.
(Info for fans attending-)
-Do you have tickets to the game? Try out the newest menu item at PPG, the Louis Domingue Spicy Pork and Broccoli special at the Nakama concession stand. (You've got to do this, right!?)
-Headed out to the big screen viewing party? This year's big screen is back on the former Igloo site across from Center Ave. this year. Keep an eye on the Penguins Twitter account first to make sure the screen will be in use- as there's as much as a 60% chance of rain today in the afternoon. If they do hold the big screen, prepare for the possibility of a few showers, it'll be cloudy and cold too. Hourly temps are forecasted to be about 54F at puck drop and it will dip into the 40s by the time the game wraps up.