Pens Pointers #17

Anthony DeSimone

The Pittsburgh Penguins are walking into the Stanley Cup playoffs as the underdog and will face the New York Rangers in game one tonight in New York.

Most fans and analysts are already counting the Penguins out of the playoffs due to their sloppy play over the latter portion of the regular season. In fact, many people are expecting a sweep in this series and are basing this assumption on the rationale that the Penguins are depleted defensively and the Rangers are too hot of a team.

In the regular season, the Rangers beat the Penguins in three of the four meetings between the two teams. During these games, the Ranger outscored the Penguins 16-8 and kept the Penguins off the scoreboard in one of those games as well.

Additionally, the Rangers had a strong season and finished in first place in the Metropolitan Division and first place overall in the league with 113 points. The Penguins struggled late in the season and were able to squeak into the last wildcard spot on the final day of the regular season with 98 Points.

Based on the regular season meetings and how the two teams made it into the playoffs, it makes sense to assume that the Rangers will breeze by the Penguins in the playoffs. However, just like in the recent NCAA March Madness tournament, there is always the chance that a Cinderella upset can occur.

Think about it; the Rangers are walking in to the playoffs thinking that they will be able to easily defeat the Penguins so they could take the Pens lightly. Additionally, there is a lot of pressure on the Rangers to win, considering they were the best regular season team.

On the other hand, the Penguins are walking into the playoffs knowing that everyone is counting them out. This means that there is no pressure on the Penguins to win the series, let alone one game, because people aren’t expecting them to win. Additionally, there is the memory and bitterness from last year’s playoffs where the Rangers came back in the series against the Pens after trailing 3-1 to win the series.

All of this will culminate into this series, which starts tonight. I am expecting to see both the Penguins and the Rangers bring their best to the ice tonight as they kick off this series.  I think this will be a low scoring game, despite the various performances from the Rangers and the Pens.

The low scoring will be a result of goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist. Both goalies have had stellar regular seasons and are expected to be even better during the playoffs. They are the two most experienced and seasoned goalies that are currently in the playoffs. However, they will be tested by some of the best goal scorers in the league such as Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis.

All in all, I think the hockey world will be a little shocked at how interesting this series is going to be. Most people look at the stats and are saying that this should be an easy win for the Rangers. However, it is the Stanley Cup playoffs. Anything and everything can and will happen.

Therefore, Penguins fans better buckle up because it’s going to be a wild and exciting playoff experience for the Pens!