New York Rangers vs. Cup Contenders: Pittsburgh Penguins

Blue Line Station continues a demeanour into how a New York Rangers smoke-stack adult opposite a teams forward of them in a NHL standings, as good as other Cup contenders.

With any diversion a New York Rangers remove from now until a finish of a season, it becomes some-more expected they will cranky over to a Atlantic Division for a playoffs. But possibly approach things play out, if a Rangers wish to win a Stanley Cup in 2017, they will expected have to go by a Pittsburgh Penguins to get there.

Two years ago, a Rangers separated a Penguins in a initial turn before bowing out in 7 games to a Tampa Bay Lightning dual rounds later. The Penguins got discerning punish final year, steamrolling a Rangers on their approach to winning a Stanley Cup.

The Pittsburgh Penguins of 2017 demeanour a lot some-more like a Cup-winning group of 2016 than a book a Rangers suspended in 2015.

Measuring Up

Since employing conduct manager Mike Sullivan, a Pittsburgh Penguins have looked like an wholly new team. After a brief composition duration in a core of a final season, a Penguins have simply been a best group in a NHL.

Their winning opening in a playoffs final year has continued into a 2016-17 season, even notwithstanding a undoubted tidal call of injuries. Young players like Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Tom Khunhackl, and Jake Guentzel have stepped into a lineup and demeanour like stars in a making.

With a Washington Capitals stumbling down a stretch, it looks expected that a Penguins could finish initial overall, winning a President’s Trophy and securing home ice via a playoffs.

They play with speed and skill, winning (in widespread fashion) though enforcers or fighters or “grit.” In short, they play a Rangers’ character of game—but with generational talent heading a way.

Star Power

It’s a common suspects for Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby stays a best actor in a world, and Evgeni Malkin is one of a few players we can make a counter-argument for. Crosby has 77 points in 64 games; Malkin has 72 in 62.

On tip of those dual core icemen, a Penguins have a polarizing Phil Kessel, a rapid sniper who substantially should have won a Conn Smythe Trophy final deteriorate as playoff MVP.

(He competence also be Twitter MVP, by a way.)

Like with a Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Lundqvist is a usually actor on a Rangers who can change a array a approach chosen talents like Crosby and Malkin do.

In final year’s playoff matchup, Lundqvist was totally hung out to dry by an unhandy Rangers defense, mostly confronting some-more high-danger shots than low-danger.

The outcome was Lundqvist’s worst playoff stat line in his decade in a NHL.

But this year could be different. On tip of an softened Rangers group and some-more mobile defensive corps, Lundqvist should be entering a playoffs healthy.

A pivotal impulse in final year’s playoff array was when Marc Staal’s hang accidentally struck Lundqvist in a eye. The frightful impulse and damage are behind a Rangers’ goaltender now.

X-Factor

It’s formidable to contend anyone is some-more essential to a Penguins’ hopes of repeating as Stanley Cup champions than their captain, Sidney Crosby. But Crosby’s winger, 24-year-old Conor Sheary, competence be a genuine x-factor for Pittsburgh.

Sheary has missed some time this season, though his numbers jump off a page: 20 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s sharpened north of 15%. He’s a kind of fast, learned actor who ideally complements Crosby, and that square was blank in Pittsburgh after Chris Kunitz starting aging.

Sheary done an sense in a playoffs final deteriorate (including 2 goals opposite a Rangers), his unchanging deteriorate prolongation is on an wholly new level. If he can keep his near-point-per-game gait going in a playoffs, a Penguins will be looking invincible.

The Rangers’ forwards can movement with a Penguins, though a place they’re outclassed is on defense. Rookie Brady Skjei stepped into a top-pair purpose in a playoffs final year, looking like he belonged in a NHL.

His considerable initial unchanging deteriorate suggests that Skjei is prepared to be a pivotal actor for a Rangers in a playoffs.

Skjei’s free skating ability and glorious prophesy with a puck are accurately what a Rangers need from a blue line if they wish to make it past a group like a Penguins.

Captain Ryan McDonagh will expected pull a tough matchups opposite Crosby and Malkin, so it will be adult to Skjei to keep a Penguins’ dangerous abyss players like Nick Bonino, ex-Ranger Carl Hagelin, and Kessel off a scoresheet.

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