Penguins at Rangers 1/31/13 Game Preview
Coming off of an ugly home loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, the Penguins will return to the world's most famous arena for the second time in two weeks for what many have predicted to be the Eastern Conference Final's match-up.
7:00 start. Expect the puck to drop between 7:07 & 7:10.
What you need to know
Have the Penguins fallen into a bad habit of playing up or down to the level of their competition? If you would have, pre-season, shown a knowledgeable fan the schedule of the first six games of the season and asked them to predict wins and losses knowing that Penguins would be 3-3, there is a better than average chance that they would predict every single game incorrectly. With wins over highly ranked teams like the Rangers, Flyers and Senators (all on the road no less) and costly losses to annual bottom-dwellers, it is fair to say that the Penguins have yet to find consistency. They hope to continue their dominant play against talented opponents tonight by giving the Rangers a second helping of what they dealt out eleven days ago.
The Rangers are coming off of a big win against the rival Flyers. New York Coach John Tortorella was displeased with his team's performance in it's last meeting with Pittsburgh. When the teams met on January 20th, Tortorella put former-Penguin Aaron Asham on the starting line with the intention of fighting and getting the adrenaline flowing in MSG; the fight was largely a draw and a talented but listless Rangers team fell 6-3 in front of a stunned crowd. The exclamation point came with less than a minute remaining in the game when Brooks Orpik caught Rangers' second year forward Chris Kreider skating with his head down and taught him a lesson he won't soon forget. Kreider went flying and stayed down for a long time. Tortorella could only look-on. It is a safe assumption that Tortorella will have his team ready to even the score.
The Penguins made an interesting acquisition this morning by picking up former first-round draft pick Zach Boychuk off of waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. As the Penguins have a surplus of checking-line forwards, it appears as though he'll get a chance to play left-wing on the Malkin unit. Chris Kunitz sat out this morning's skate with unspecific illness but is expected to be in the lineup. Robert Bortuzzo will make his first NHL appearance of the season and Brent Johnson will start in goal following Tuesday night's loss, during which he had to relieve Fleury in the 3rd period.