Game Prep: Playoff Game 7- Now Or Never
Win or “The Last Run” Is Done.
2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1, Game 7: Penguins at Rangers
Game 7: It's now or never for the Pens, quite literally. They either win or "The Last Run", the possible final playoffs with Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin as Penguins is finished. Neither player currently have deals in place for next year with the Pens and are set to become free agents this summer as things stand.
If the Pittsburgh Penguins do not win tonight the "Sidney Crosby era" as we know it might just be over with those 2 players potentially exiting. As to what the future will entail for this team and how competitive it can be with Sid alone and lacking Letang and Malkin that remains the key unanswered question.
Sid’s signed until 2025 so he’s not going anywhere but whether the Pens will remain contenders if a duo that he won 3 Cups in 8 years with walks out that door is unknown and seems unlikely. That’s a lot of talent to replace. And the options to do so are slim to none.
The Pens have to win tonight to keep the dynasty going.
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 a 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 come down to him.
Tristan Jarry specifically is perhaps the key return to watch for as he's facing a difficult situation. He's expected to start in a winner take all game while coming off of a 4-6 week injury he's only in the low range (4 weeks exactly) of rehabbing from.
Oh, and right now he has a worse career playoff record and fewer playoff wins than Louis Domingue, who has been holding the net spot:
Domingue: 3-3-0, 3.45 GAA, .902 SV%
Jarry: 2-5-0, 2.90 GAA, .894 SV%
That's not because Louis is a better goalie. The team was simply miraculous in front of him, Jake Guenzel 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 the NHL form is not there with Louis and neither is the ability to make the simple save in the clutch moment. So Jarry it has to be.
That puts Tristan Jarry in a very tough spot. Pre-injury he was 1-4-0 in his last 5 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 this injury, 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. That's a big deal. No Pens goalie has faced such playoff pressure since Marc-Andre Fleury trying to prove the Penguins were legit Cup winners in 2009. Only a few goalies can deal with that hot of a spotlight.
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 he's potentially going to unfairly shoulder a lot of the blame if he can't perform. Being a goalie is truly for a rare breed of people. Not everyone is built for it but I hope Tristan Jarry is.
Now let's dive into the details for tonight!
[Essential Game Info]
Pens Playoff Game #7-
Match-Up: Penguins (3) vs. Rangers (3)
Date: Sunday, May 15, 2022
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: New York, NY
Venue: Madison Square Garden
TV Broadcasts: Nationally- TBS | Local Simulcasts- ATTSN (PIT), MSG (NYR) | Canadian TV- 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
[Team Stat Comparisons]
Head To Head-
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)
[Stat Leaders By Team Comparisons]
Series Stats Leaders-
Goals: Jake Guentzel, 7.
Assists: Sidney Crosby/Jake Guentzel, 7.
Points: Crosby/Guentzel/Fox, 9
Shots: Jake Guentzel, 34.
Plus/Minus: Marino/Kapanen/Trouba, +4.
TOI/G: Kris Letang, 29:59
FO%: Teddy Blueger, 70.2%
Hits: Jacob Trouba, 24
Blocks: Kris Letang, 17.
Takeaways: K’Andre Miller, 11
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.
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.
[Projected Starting Goalie Comparisons]
All signs point to Tristan Jarry returning to play today, but given it's a return from injury consider this as projected Penguins'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
#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
PENS BULLET 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 Pens! These Penguins 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 us over nearly two decades with the team.
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 6 and react back. 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. Only give up
Play To Their Potential- They can beat the Rangers. They've done it for 3 games without their top 2 goalies, a top 6 forward/their main deadline acquisition, and without their top pair defenseman. 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 here.
[Extra Misc. Info]
-One thing to take note of the Penguins are 6-0 all-time on the road in Game 7. The last time they had to win a Game 7 on the road- 2017 vs. Washington. That year ended well.
-Brian Boyle is now out injured due to an injury sustained in Game 6. He likely would have been a candidate to be scratched even if healthy with Crosby and Rakell returning at forward.
-Brian Dumoulin 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 2 for the first time in 4 years and perhaps the final time with the Crosby/Malkin/Letang trio they'll face a perfect storybook opponent: former "Big 5 Pens" core member with that trio (along with 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 the Pens debut on that channel.