There’s a little irony that the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, who both employed the famous No. 68, Jaromir Jagr, will play Game 68 Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. You can pick your overriding storyline. The Rangers skated the Penguins out of the building last Friday, 5-1, at Madison Square Garden.
The two teams are locked in a battle for second place in the Metro Division. The Penguins lead the Rangers by one point, but the Rangers have one game in hand. Anything less than a regulation win by the Penguins swings the advantage for home ice in Round One to New York.
On Sunday, the Penguins set a salary cap era record with 11 goals in their 11-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Only two Penguins skaters didn’t register a point (Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson). Evgeni Malkin notched a hat trick and four points (3-1-4), and Teddy Blueger also had four points (1-3-4).
Both Malkin and Sidney Crosby are averaging more than a point-per-game this season. Crosby has 69 points (24-45-69) in 55 games. Malkin has 32 points (16-16-32) in 30 games with the outburst on Sunday. Both Crosby and Malkin had their season delayed by offseason surgery.
There wasn’t much to learn from the Rangers’ 5-1 win last Friday. The Penguins no-showed, and New York knocked three goals in the first few minutes. The contest was essentially over, though Jeff Carter tipped a Kasperi Kapanen wrister for a Penguins power-play goal later in the third period.
Tristan Jarry was pulled in the second period but returned a few minutes later when backup goalie Casey DeSmith was injured. DeSmith returned to practice the following day.
Tactically, the teams share similarities with speed and a heavy forecheck. New York likes to fly the zone for odd-man rushes, leaving them vulnerable to a strong low game. The Penguins’ ability to hold onto the puck in the low zone and force the Ranger defensemen to turn and face them in the corners.
If the Penguins try to play on the rush, this could become a track meet quickly. Not that we’re complaining.
Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins. He outdueled Igor Shesterkin and shut out the Rangers 1-0 on Feb. 26.
Penguins Betting Odds:
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The “bet against Dan” pick of the day: I say take the Penguins and give the pucks -1.5 (+150).
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Rickard Rakell||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jason Zucker||Jeff Carter||Danton Heinen|
|Brock McGinn||Teddy Blueger||Evan Rodrigues|
|Mike Matheson||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mark Friedman||Chad Ruhwedel|
Expected Rangers Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*INJURIES: F Jason Zucker, lower-body (29 consecutive, 36 total), Brock McGinn, upper-body (8 consecutive, 11 total), Nathan Beaulieu, lower-body (4 consecutive, 4 total). 2021-22 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 242
*The Penguins have points in 14 of their last 17 games versus New York (11-3-3) and is 15-5-3 in its last 23 games versus the RangersCrosby’sy Crosby’s next point will see him hit the 70-point plateau for the 12th time in his career, which would tie Alex Ovechkin (12) and Joe Thornton (12) for most among active players
*Bryan Rust, who has 55 points (22-33-55) in 45 games, is one point shy of tying his career-high point total of 56, that he set in 55 games during the 2019-20 season. Since the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign, Rust has 153 points (71-82-153) in 156 games.
*Evgeni Malkin has 13 career hat tricks. That is the second-most in team history (Mario Lemieux, 40) and second-most among all active players (Alex Ovechkin, 28).
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X