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Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers

Mike RappaportAnalyst IIApril 22, 2008

After the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals tonight in game seven, the New York Rangers finally found out who their semi-final opponents would be.

The answer: the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While the alternative (the Montreal Canadiens) wasn't much better, the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist are surely going to have their hands full with the speedy Penguins.

Like the Rangers, the Penguins have had lots of time off after making a sweep of the Ottawa Senators look effortless. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had eight and seven points each, and Marc-Andre Fleury played well in goal.

This matchup is one of the more interesting of the four semi-final matchups.

While most people have valid reasons arguing that the Penguins are the better team, the Rangers won the season series this year from the Penguins, 5-3.

One thing is clear. The Rangers will not win this series unless Lundqvist is on his game—and the Rangers avoid the penalty box.

Even though Fleury played well against Ottawa, it's hard to believe that the Rangers won't be able to get their share of goals against him, especially after scoring at will against future Hall of Famer and Vezina finalist Martin Brodeur. 

The Rangers match the Penguins' firepower offensively. The factor determining who goes to the Eastern Conference Finals will be goaltending.

In terms of goaltending, the edge goes to Lundqvist.

A Vezina finalist in each of his first three years, Lundqvist is 12-6-3 lifetime against Pittsburgh.  Despite Pittsburgh's offense, Lundqvist has only once in eight games this year given up more than three goals against them.

Prediction: Rangers in six.

Game one is expected to be Friday night in Pittsburgh.   

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