Rangers vs. Penguins Game 1: Keys for New York to Win
The Penguins are coming off a series in which they narrowly escaped upset by an upstart Columbus Blue Jackets squad and their upcoming matchup with the Rangers should be interesting.
Heading into Game 1, the Rangers are considered an underdog, but they can emerge victorious if they follow these keys to the game.
Stay out of the Penalty Box
The New York Rangers need to stay out of the penalty box if they want to have a chance in this series, let alone Game 1. The Philadelphia Flyers' power play was very good against the Rangers and the Penguins have a solid man-advantage unit that could make the Rangers pay.
During the first round, the Penguins' power play went 6-for-29, which amounts to a 20.7 percent success rate. For the sake of comparison, the Flyers went 6-for-21 (28.6 percent).
It is worth noting that the Rangers defense is better than that of the Columbus Blue Jackets, so there is a chance they may fare better against Pittsburgh.
Numbers aside, the Rangers need to stay disciplined, because anytime Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang are out on the ice at one time, you are just asking for trouble.
Win the Goaltender Battle
There is no excuse for the Rangers to lose the goaltending battle in Game 1 or the series in general. Henrik Lundqvist is a better goaltender than Marc-Andre Fleury, and if he outduels, Fleury this could be a short series.
The Columbus Blue Jackets made Fleury look bad on a number of occasions during the first round, and the Rangers offense should be able to do the same. The Rangers' top six is far better than the Blue Jackets', which should make Fleury sweat.
The goaltending battle is going to be interesting in this series. Having Lundqvist play better than Fleury is a key for Game 1.
Use Speed to Their Advantage
The Rangers' roster has a ton of speed, and that is something that can benefit the team in Game 1 against the Penguins. The Penguins are not very fleet of foot as a whole, and if the Rangers continue to play a game in transition, they can score goals against the Penguins.
The Rangers' ability to get pucks deep and retrieve them benefited them against the Flyers. In Game 1, this strategy could be very useful.
The Penguins had trouble with the Blue Jackets' speed and forechecking ability in the first round, and they could have even more trouble against the Rangers.
The Rangers will need to use their speed to their advantage. If they set the tone early, they can have success against the Penguins.
Get Rick Nash Going
The Rangers won the first round without receiving a goal from Rick Nash. Everyone and their mother called out Nash for not scoring a goal, but he did have a decent series. He was a defensive monster, a solid penalty-killer, a decent playmaker and he recorded 30 shots on goal.
Nash started throwing his weight around during the second half of the series, and it was great to see him use his size.
The hulking winger was robbed a couple of times by Steve Mason in Game 7 and it was evident that he is close to breaking out.
Follow the Brandon Dubinsky Method of Shutting Down Sidney Crosby
For most of the first round, former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky was a thorn in the side of Sidney Crosby. Crosby was roughed up physically, wasn't given much space and Dubinsky did a solid job of neutralizing him.
Although Crosby averaged a point per game in Round 1, he didn't score a goal.
Obviously, he is one of the game's top playmakers, but keeping him from scoring goals is something the Rangers will try to do in this series. The best candidate to try and shut down Crosby is Dominic Moore.
He's a faceoff ace that won 56.9 percent of his draws in the first round, whereas Crosby only won 50.7 percent of his faceoffs. Moore is a speedy skater, an excellent forechecker and a defensive player that should be able to give Crosby fits from time to time.
While the Rangers should be concerned with Crosby, they can't devote all their attention to him because that will free up time and space for Evgeni Malkin.