New York Rangers VS Pittsburgh Penguins- 5/2/14
New York Rangers (45-31-6) at Pittsburgh Penguins (51-24-7)
NHL Hockey: Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Consol Energy Centre)
The Line: Pittsburgh Penguins -137 / New York Rangers +124 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
The Rangers and Penguins kick off their second round matchup from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh with both teams looking to improve on their opening round efforts.
The Blue Shirts head into the Eastern Conference semi-finals (or Metro division championship depending on who you talk to) against the Pittsburgh Penguins coming off a lengthy seven-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers, one that was draining both emotionally and physically. New York escaped the see saw battle with a 2-1 victory in the deciding contest at MSG and now have the luxury of playing a Penguins team that is loaded with talent but has been playing subpar hockey for about three weeks now. Henril Lundqvist will be a huge factor in this series as he usually is for the Rangers as he is still one of the best goalies in the NHL and he will be matched up against Marc-Andre Fleury who has a Cup ring on his resume but has been the scapegoat for his team’s failures over the last couple years. New York head into this series as relatively big underdogs considering the circumstances but Alain Vigneault and his crew are more than happy with embracing that role.
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The Penguins were highly criticized for their opening round effort against the Columbus Blue Jackets and while they took the series in six games they didn’t make it easy on themselves as they allowed the scrappy Blue Jackets to dictate the pace of the series on mopre than one occasion. However, the Pens got the job done without playing their best hockey and with the exception of Evgeni Malkin’s game six hat trick the superstars of this team were invisible in the opening series. While some may consider that a cause for concern just thinks about how dangerous this team will be once their top guys start performing. If they could knock off a tough team like Columbus in six games without having Sidney Crosby, the league leader in points this season, score a goal just imagine the damage they can do if he starts heating up. The outcome of this series to me will be determined by the play between the pipes as we all know that Lundqvist is a rock but if Fleury can match him shot for shot than I think this will be a quick series favouring the Pens. If Fleury falters than the door opens and the Rangers have a great shot at pulling off the upset. As for game one, I expect the home crowd to play enough of a factor for the Pens to get up for this one and while New York played well on the road in the regular season they lost two of three games in Philly in the first round.