waddling Penguins have stamped their little feet all the way to second in the
Atlantic, sitting just five points adrift of the Flyers on 66 points and who’s
that just five points behind them?
other than the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh’s opponents for Tuesday night. It’s
gonna be a close game with both teams trying to make ground on the team
directly above them. However, it’s the
Penguins who have the most to gain as, despite the narrow points margin the Rangers
have played a pair of games more, so are less of a concern for the Flyers.
After those three teams in the league there’s a real big drop off as team #4 (the
NY Islanders) have just 37 points (after 49 games).
Penguins holding steady without Crosby
tricky game to call because January was the very dictionary definition of a
mixed month for the Pittsburgh Penguins, with six regulation wins from ten games and a
thumping good result on the 5th of January, when they took the Tampa Bay Lightning apart
and recorded an 8-1 victory, shortly followed by a 4-0 loss to the Wild three days later. In
their last game (also against a NY team) the Penguins made heavy work of the
Islanders but managed to roll out winners 1-0 by the final buzzer. It’s
probably due to the lack of superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, that
Pittsburgh have been forced to grind out games by relying on the three Ds,
that’s defense defense and defense. The low scoring victory over the Islanders was notable for a 29-save
shutout thanks to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, which marked 10 consecutive home wins
against New York teams for the Penguins.
The win also
marked five victories in their last six games - all without Crosby - and the second
time in three games that Malkin was also missing due to his injury. These
injuries should have heralded a sorry run for the Penguins, but they’ve allowed
just nine goals in this six-game run and have refused to let in more than two goals
in any one of those. Don’t expect a high scoring match when they take on the
Rangers, as the Rangers have only scored nine in their last four outings.
Rangers keeping it close
have become something of a speciality for the Rangers, bet on a narrow win
margin (whoever wins) and remember that The Rangers’ last three games have all
been decide by a single goal and the last two were Shoot Outs, Shoot Outs that
the Rangers won. The glass half empty types out there will say that’s just 2
goals that separate the Rangers from a four game losing streak. For the glass
half full types out there, see it as two goals (if they’d been scored against
the Panthers) that would have made a three game win streak….
past the past four games (game number four being a 4-1 loss at the hands of
Hurricanes), there was a big win for the Ranger as they tore the Maple Leafs a
new one and beat them 7-0, hardly a close call. So putting aside the big win
and the close calls what have the Rangers done for us lately?
4-3 to the Panthers last Tuesday, that’s what. You shouldn’t see that defeat as
too much of a symbol for a team in trouble though the Rangers must have been
running on fumes after their five-games-in-seven-nights stretch. A stretch that
at times saw them hit the ice with up to eight regulars out due to injury. The
All Star Break was probably just what they needed and expect them to take the
fight to the Penguins.
Prediction: Almost too close to call...but the Rangers win