New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins April 5th 2013

Can it just be a coincidence that the Pittsburgh Penguins have dropped 2 games in a row since superstar Sidney Crosby was sidelined with a broken jaw. I think not. Perhaps we will learn more tonight when the New York Rangers travel to the Steel City to complete a home/home series between the 2 teams. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:00ET and will be televised on the NHL Network.

Entering tonight’s action the Rangers (18-15-3, 39 points) find themselves in a battle for the 8th and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The other contenders happen to be the crosstown rival Islanders and nearby neighbor New Jersey Devils. It could be an interesting few weeks leading up to the playoffs for NHL fans on the Northeastern seaboard.

If last nights game vs. the Pens is any indication, New York made a great deal in sending Martin Gaborick to Columbus for center Derick Brassard and defenseman John Moore. All Brassard did was score a goal and contribute 3 assists in his first game for New York. Moore decided to get in on the action as well with his first score of the season.

Add the arrival of Ryan Clowe to Madison Square Garden who decided to score his first 2 goals of the season after joining the Rangers on Tuesday from San Jose and it was quite the “Welcome to New York” party in the Rangers 6-1 victory.

For the Penguins (28-10-0, 56 points) there are no substantial additions to be excited about, just the deletion of “Sid the Kid”. The Pens were a perfect 15-0 in March before Crosby went down. They lead the Eastern Conference by 3 points over Montreal. They have all but wrapped up the Atlantic Division with a 16 point lead over the aforementioned Islanders. Pittsburgh simply could not match the intensity New York displayed with it’s band of new arrivals last night.

That will have to be remedied quickly if the Penguins hope to avoid 3 defeats in a row for the first time in this strike shortened season. It is not yet known if Pittsburgh will stick with Marc Andre-Fleury in net after the 6 goal barrage or hand the net minding over to Tomas Vokoun. Fleury had performed well in the previous 5 affairs prior to last nights debacle. Expect to see Henrik Lundqvist to remain between the pipes for New York.

Pittsburgh is 2nd in NHL scoring with an average of 3.2 goals per game. This was of course with Crosby on the ice. They can play some defense too, rounding out the top third of the league in goal against per game at 2.5. Speaking of defense, the Rangers are 4th in GAA with just 2.3. Where New York struggles is putting the puck in the net. They rank 28th of 30 in goals scored per game (2.4). Rick Nash was a great offseason pickup for the Rangers. He currently leads the team in goals (13), assists (17) and total points (30). Guess who leads Pittsburgh in total points? That’s right, the sidelined Crosby with 56 points including 41 assists.

Pittsburgh is 3-1 in the first 4 contests against New York this year with this being their last encounter of the regular schedule. Even with the results of last nights game and Crosby being out I like the Penguins to rebound in this one with a 3-2 victory. If you want a second opinion on this game visit Sports Pickin’.

Free NHL Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins


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