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The New York Rangers are on a seven-game winning streak.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won seven of their last eight games.
The Rangers were 3-1-0 against the Penguins last year.
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New York Rangers
18-10-5 (3rd in Metropolitan Division)
18-9-4 (4th in Metropolitan Division)
Artemi Panarin (40)
Sidney Crosby (40)
Mika Zibanejad (15)
Sidney Crosby (17)
Artemi Panarin (32)
Sidney Crosby (23)
Adam Fox (12)
Richard Rakell (10)
Mika Zibanejad (3.85)
Shots (Per Game)
Evgeni Malkin (3.03)
The New York Rangers will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins in a divisional battle. The Rangers currently possess the first Wild Card spot with 37 points. However, the Rangers could fall to the second Wild Card spot with a loss in regulation. On the other side, the Penguins are in the third spot in the Metropolitan Division with 40 points. However, they could move up a spot with a win and a Carolina Hurricanes loss.
The Rangers are surging and on a seven-game winning streak. Their offense has not been consistent this time, but their defense has been excellent. The defensemen have only allowed two goals per game in the last seven. Overall, the Rangers have a decent offense but would benefit from them stepping up.
The Rangers have a talented squad led by Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox. Panarin has not found the back of the net too much this season but leads the Rangers with 32 assists. Zibanejad is a bit more of a jack of all trades and has 15 goals and 22 assists. Adam Fox is the one defenseman on this list (and one of the best defensemen in the NHL). Fox plays almost 25 minutes a game and has seven goals and 27 assists.
Igor Shesterkin remains the #1 goaltender in New York. Shesterkin is tied for the second-most wins in the league (16) and allows the ninth-lowest amount of goals (2.39). The 26-year-old is a premier netminder and must continue dominating for the Rangers.
The Penguins lost their previous game to the Carolina Hurricanes but won their seven before that. This season, their offense is potent, and their defense is in the top half of the NHL. In addition, their goaltending duo of Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith has held their own.
The Penguins have a veteran squad and the personnel to make a run if they stay healthy. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jake Guentzel are Pittsburgh’s three offensive standouts and much of the reason for their success this year. Crosby is on a tear and leads the Penguins in points (40), goals (17), and assists (23). With that being said, Crosby has been a little slower lately and only has two goals in the last five games. Malkin is not as efficient as Crosby but has ten goals and 22 assists. Jake Guentzel is the youngest player in this group and has 15 goals and 16 assists.
Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith can be seen in the net for Pittsburgh this year. Jarry is the starter, but DeSmith plays in a little over ⅓ of their games. These two have combined for a .919 save percentage and 2.87 goals against average. These numbers are decent, but they could be better.
This game will be close, but the Penguins will win 3-2. Their offense has been better as of late and the difference makers.
The Rangers are unsurprisingly the underdogs but will win if they involve Artemi Panarin and draw penalties.
Artemi Panarin is a passing machine averaging almost one assist a game. Panarin is a threat with the puck and knows how to find his teammates, which is why the Rangers need to involve him as much as possible.
The Rangers do not have a superb power-play unit, but they are in the top half of the league. This unit must get on the ice as much as possible and put at least one in the back of the net.
The Penguins are the favorites but will only win if they play team defense and get second-chance shots.
The Penguins will be tasked with slowing down Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and others. To do this successfully, Pittsburgh must play team defense and put in 100% of their effort.
The Penguins average 33.2 shots per game and usually score well. However, they typically face worse goaltenders than Igor Shesterkin. Pittsburgh must swarm the net and look for second-chance shots. They may be able to get an extra goal that way.
Adam Fox is an outstanding defenseman and an intelligent player. Fox can score a little, pass well, and defensively, is a menace.
Fox must continue dominating on both sides of the ice and cause as much chaos as possible.
Kris Letang missed some time in early December after he suffered a stroke. However, he did not miss too much time and returned on December 10.
Letang is having a solid season but has a +/- of -7. He is Pittsburgh’s alternate captain and needs to make smarter decisions on the ice. Luckily, the veteran has the opportunity tonight to flip the narrative and improve his +/-.
What - New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Where - PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When - Tuesday, December 20, 7:00 PM EST
How to Watch - NHLPP, ESPN+
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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