Rangers-Dan Girardi: He likely is playing banged up, but Dan Girardi makes no excuses and gives a monster effort night in and night out for the Rangers. And if the Blueshirts are to beat the Penguins on Saturday afternoon, Girardi will have to be at his best because he and Ryan McDonagh will be doing the lion's share of the work against Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, the league's top two leading scorers who are playing with extreme confidence and at a tremendously high level right now. With Marc Staal still missing from the lineup due to injury, even more pressure lands on the shoulders of Girardi and McDonagh every night to carry the load on the blueline, especially against such a high-powered offensive team like Pittsburgh. Girardi has one goal and nine points, and a -2 plus/minus rating this season. He is pointless in his last five games, and is a -4 in his last four, perhaps a sign of playing through pain or missing Staal on the defense corps.
Penguins-Chris Kunitz: The former Anaheim Ducks winger is playing the best hockey of his career at present, ranking second in the NHL with 18 goals and 39 points, tied for first with eight power play goals, and first with a whopping +23 plus/minus rating---all in just 28 games played. A four-time 20-goal scorer, Kunitz could surpass his career-high of 26 (set last year) and do it in an abridged 48-game season this year, which would be simply incredible. He has four game-winning goals already, and has produced a five-point game (3-2-5 vs. the Islanders last week) and a four-goal game (February 3rd in Washington). Kunitz enters play Saturday riding a three-game point streak in which he has notched eight points (4-4-8).