Rangers-Penguins Preview

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:00 PM at CONSOL Energy Center

Where To Watch: MSG 2

Where To Listen: 1130-AM Bloomberg Radio, and newyorkrangers.com

Live In-Game Chat: 6:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com

 

What2Watch4

 

For several weeks it was thought that tonight's contest in Pittsburgh between the Rangers (51-22-7, 109 pts) and Penguins (49-25-6, 104 pts) could very well decide first place in the Eastern Conference. However a strong finish by the Rangers---winners in 7 of their last 9 games---clinched the top spot with a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia on Tuesday. With two games left to play in the regular season the Rangers are still battling Vancouver and St. Louis for the President Trophy and first place overall in the National Hockey League. Entering play today the Rangers and Canucks both have 109 points, but the Blueshirts own the tiebreaker, while the Blues sit at 107 points. The Rangers have not won the Presidents Trophy since the Stanley Cup championship season of 1993-94. They also won the Presidents Trophy two years prior to that. After starting ten straight games in goal, it is likely Henrik Lundqvist will get the night off against Pittsburgh, with Martin Biron expected to start for the first time since March the 15th. Marian Gaborik will carry a six-game point scoring streak into tonight's game, having notched six goals and ten points in the previous six matches. Sitting at 41 goals, Gaborik is one shy of equaling his career-high of 42 in one season. Also, Ryan Callahan enters play just one goal shy of reaching the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career. Pittsburgh, coming off a 5-3 win Tuesday in Boston, has lost four of its last six games and five of eight following a phenomenal 13-0-1 run that had the Penguins breathing down the Rangers' necks in the East. The Pens are in a battle with the Flyers now for fourth place---and home ice advantage at least for the first round---with Pittsburgh holding a three-point edge with two games left to play. After a night off in Boston it is expected that Marc-Andre Fleury will be back between the pipes for the Penguins tonight.

 

Head2Head

 

This is the sixth and final meeting between the Rangers and Penguins this season. Pittsburgh has won three of the first five games of this season series, with the first two games at the CONSOL Energy Center having been split. The Rangers skated to a 3-1 victory in Pittsburgh on January 6th---as Henrik Lundqvist starred with 37 saves. The Pens gained revenge on home ice with a 2-0 shutout win on February 21st, as Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 35 saves. Brad Richards leads the Rangers with six points (2-4-6) against the Penguins this season.

 

"Our whole team has just been focusing on these last couple of games. We want to get our game to where it needs to be. And we've been serious about that. We've got to have our game top notch as we head into the post-season. And I think we've been at a high level recently. We've been playing good hockey."-Ryan Callahan

 

By The Numbers

 

The Rangers are playing their last road game of the 2011-12 regular season. They currently own the league's second-best road record at 24-11-5. Their 24 road wins has already tied the franchise single-season record (1993-94 and 2010-11), while their 53 points on the road is a new franchise record.

Coming off a two goal, three-point outing on Tuesday, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has recorded nine points (3-6-9) in his last three games. In 20 games so far in this injury-plagued season, Crosby still has notched 34 points (7-27-34) and 12 multipl-point games.

 

How will the Rangers fare tonight with less on the line after finally clinching first place in the Eastern Conference? Share your predictions on the game below.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

For complete coverage of the team follow @thenyrangers and @jimcerny on Twitter.