New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Tale of the Tape for 2012-13

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New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Tale of the Tape for 2012-13
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"It's not bragging if you can back it up." -Muhammad Ali

Knockout line by one of the greatest heavyweight champs in history.

The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are a couple of big-time heavyweights themselves. Two of the best teams in the National Hockey League, they will fight for supremacy not only within the Atlantic Division, but first overall in the Eastern Conference and the entire league as well.

Either one of these teams has the goods to hoist Lord Stanley's hardware once all the HRR (hockey-related ridiculousness in my humble opinion) is finished.

In one corner, the Broadway Blueshirts.

In the other corner, the powerful Pens.

How do these two prodigious punchers match up head-to-head?

Without any further adieu, here's the tale of the tape:

Muhammad Ali quote from brainyquote.com 

 

FORWARDS

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

When you have Sydney Crosby (arguably the game's premier player), Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter as your top three centers, you're doing pretty well. 

Actually, you're doing great.

Add in James Neal to that mix, along with Chris Kunitz and Tyler Kennedy, and you can see why the Penguins are loaded up front.

The Rangers have Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash providing the firepower. Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin deliver superior levels of support.

But overall, when it comes to putting the biscuit in the basket, it's hard to beat Mr. Crosby and crew.

Edge: Penguins 

 

DEFENSE

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Rangers boast one of the finest top-four backline units in the entire league, consisting of Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto (yes, I believe the Rangers will sign him).

Patrolling the blueline for the Pens are mainstays the smooth-skating Kris Letang and tough-as-nails Brooks Orpik. After that, not much else. 

Edge: Rangers 

 

GOALTENDING

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Marc-Andre Fleury has won the Stanley Cup.

Henrik Lundqvist has not.

However, when it comes to consistency, the King has been better than the Flower throughout their respective careers. The Pens' main puck stopper is two years younger, but No. 30 for New York is in the prime of his career, coming off a Vezina Trophy campaign as the league's top net minder.

Backups Martin Biron and Tomas Vokoun are a wash.

Edge: Rangers 


SPECIAL TEAMS

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Letang. Enough said on the power play. On the penalty killing side of the ledger, the Pens were at 87.7 percent last season (with 11 shorthanded goals), while the Rangers came in at 86.2 percent (eight shorthanded goals).

Stats provided by nhl.com

Edge: Penguins


COACHING 

Rangers bench boss John Tortorella and Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma have led teams to Stanley Cups. But Tortorella brings more experience and a competitive fire that's hard to match.

Edge: Rangers


OVERALL

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Penguins have Crosby and Malkin, two superstars the Rangers (or any other team in the league for that matter) simply can't match on the front lines. But the Blueshirts have better goaltending, a better defense and a better coach. Plus, they finished one point better than the Pens in the standings last season (109 to 108). One could argue that Team Sidney would have finished on top in the East if No. 87 played the entire season. But of course, we know that didn't happen.

Edge: Rangers 

Let me know your thoughts.

 

Bonus Rangers/Pens Links:

Remember when Adam Graves slashed Mario Lemieux during the '92 playoffs? Read about it here.

Check out the Rangers' current roster.

Check out the Penguins' current roster.

John Tortorella rips the Penguins after a loss last April.

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