Rangers vs. Penguins Preview: Round One Rematch
Finally, the Penguins get their long-awaited shot at revenge against the Rangers.
After their seven-game win streak was snapped in Carolina, nothing will motivate the Penguins to bounce back quickly quite like a shot at avenging their brutal Round One playoff loss to the New York Rangers. Tonight is finally the highly anticipated first meeting between these teams since last May's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
To refresh your memory: that's where the analytically superior Pens lost by a single, game-seven overtime goal after battling through to that point on the back of their third-string, minor league goalie Louis Domingue. And after losing both Rickard Rakell and Sidney Crosby for several games due to controversial cheap shots earlier in the series as well. This was all after Pittsburgh had a 3-1 lead in games and the Rangers were on the brink of elimination.
Just one game of either of those players on the ice instead of sidelined due to illegal hits or having a healthy top-two goaltender and that series was easily the Penguins' to take.
It was the most bitter playoff loss the Penguins have had in the five years in which they've struggled to get to the second round after climbing to the pinnacle of the NHL twice by winning back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2016 and 2017.
To add insult to actual injury the Rangers then made the man who targeted Crosby, Jacob Trouba, their new Captain just weeks later with almost zero resume criteria for the role and leaving several long-time New York team leaders overlooked instead. It was on paper and by most pundits view a puzzling decision. But it sent a pretty clear message. That Trouba's bounty for Sidney Crosby's head was a Captaincy.
So expect some fireworks from the Pens tonight as they attempt to make a statement in a game that's likely been circled on every player's calendar since the schedule was released in July.
And this time the Penguins are coming in with an actual starter in net, a sizzling hot one at that. Tristan Jarry is on a six-game win streak and has not suffered a regulation loss in over a month and a half. His last defeat in regular time was 12 games ago on November 5th vs. Seattle. He's quietly having one of the best seasons out of any goaltender in the league with an overall record of 14-3-3 and a save percentage of .921%. Jarry besting the Ranger's Vezina-winning goalie Igor Shesterkin in this heads-up showdown would really help put his strong season on the map on the national scene.
Pens Game #32: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers
Date: December 20, 2022
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Broadcasts: Local- ATTSN, National- ESPN+
Social Media Hashtags #: #LetsGoPens #NYR
Records- PIT: 18-9-4, NYR: 18-10-5
Last 10- PIT: 7-2-1, NYR: 8-1-1
Streaks- PIT: 1 Loss, NYR: 7 Wins
Standings- PIT: 10th, NYR: 9th
Points- PIT: 40, NYR: 41
‘21/22 Season Series- 3-1 NYR
‘21/22 Series Goals For- PIT: 4, NYR: 11
Team Stat Comparison:
Projected starting goalies-
-TRISTAN JARRY- #35
Bio Info: 6' 2", 194 lbs. DOB: 4/29/1995 (27). From: Surrey, BC.
Drafted: 2013- Rd 2, Pk 44 (PIT). Experience: 7th Season.
Record: 14-3-3, 2.63 GAA, .921 SV%
Career vs. NYR: 6-5-0, 2.86 GAA, .899 SV%
[New York Rangers]
Bio Info: 6' 2", 182 lbs. DOB: 12/30/1995 (26). From: Moscow, Russia.
Drafted: 2014- Rd 4, Pk 118 (NYR). Experience: 4th Season.
Record: 16-4-4, 2.39 GAA, .919 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 5-3-1, 2.11 GAA, .924 SV%
Josh Archibald was out of practice yesterday due to a lower-body injury but was surprisingly announced as a game-time decision earlier today. Archibald is the Pens' team leader in hits averaging about 21 per 60 minutes played which makes him an important factor against a New York team that won the bulk of the physical battles last spring.
In more unexpected injury returns, Jason Zucker also joined the list of potentially available players. He was originally thought to be sidelined for several weeks but the Penguins announced that he too is a game-time decision for this huge game.
The Penguins recalled forward Drew O'Connor from the minor leagues to have an additional forward on hand in case either player is unable to go. The NHL's holiday roster freeze kicked in yesterday and this promotion gives them an extra skater for the duration of the Christmastime games.
If either Zucker or Archibald can't play the most likely candidates to fill in would be Danton Heinen in Zucker's second line where he's spent some time in the past and produced results. And Archibald's fourth-line wing position would be best filled by Drew O'Connor. O'Connor fits the speedier, forecheck-based model of that line. He can also pitch in as they handle their defensive duties as well.
-Josh Archibald (F): lower body, game-time decision.
-Jeff Petry (D): IR, upper body, out until January.
-Jason Zucker (F): lower body, game-time decision.
The projected Penguins lines for Tuesday, December 20, 2022, vs. the New York Rangers:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker (Heinen) - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Ryan Poehling - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald (O'Connor)
Marcus Pettersson - Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin - Jan Rutta
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Letang
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker/Heinen, Kapanen, Joseph
PK1: Blueger, McGinn, Dumoulin, Rutta
PK2: Poehling, Rust, Ruhwedel, Letang
The Rangers come into this game on an offensive onslaught having scored 32 goals in a seven-game span. NYR has scored 13 goals of those goals in their last two games alone.
To make things even more contentious, New York is neck and neck with the Penguins in the standings as well. They sit a place ahead of Pittsburgh in the ninth position with one more point (41). Both teams are trying to battle for position in the behemoth that is the Metropolitan Division which houses so many of the league's best-performing franchises. That makes every point and every game matter even this early on in the season.
Pittsburgh native Vincent Trocheck will make his hometown debut with his new team tonight. Trocheck signed with New York last summer after spending two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Key players added: Forwards- Ryan Carpenter, Vincent Trocheck. Goalie- Jaroslav Halak.
Key players lost: Forwards- Andrew Copp, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Strome, Frank Vatrano. Defense- Justin Braun, Patrik Nemeth. Goalie- Alexandar Georgiev.
-Filip Chytil (F): upper body, day-to-day.
For The Penguins: Evgeni Malkin. Evgeni Malkin is on an eight-game point streak. That's really all to this pick: eight games! He's scored in every single game this December. He's having a perfect month.
For The Rangers: Vince Trocheck. The man many people were clamoring for the Penguins to sign this summer instead of Evgeni Malkin. They're both buzzing right now and have the chance to prove they were the right summer signing for their respective teams when meeting heads up. Trocheck is on a four-game point streak with seven points in that time. Three of four of those games were multi-point nights. He also has points in six of the last seven overall.