After a three-day hiatus, the New York Rangers return to action against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
- New York Rangers (14-10-2)
- Pittsburgh Penguins (15-10-3)
- Television: MSG Networks
- Venue: PPG Paints Arena
It’s always fun when the Rangers face Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This one has a different feel behind considering the game the two teams played against each other earlier in the season.
In that October contest, the Rangers came back down 2-0 with three goals in the second period only to surrender a late goal to Sidney Crosby and lose in overtime.
Fast forward to today’s game and there is a different vibe surrounding the Rangers. The team is coming off a 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and have won seven of their last 10 games. Henrik Lundqvist has turned around his season after struggling at the start of the season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming into this one without the two-time Stanley Cup Champion goaltender Matt Murray. Filling in for Murray, who is out with a lower-body injury, will be Tristan Jarry. The Rangers have faced Jarry once during his short time in the NHL scoring three goals of the 22-year-old netminder in the 2016-2017 season.
Pittsburgh is 9-2-1 at home and will be a good test for the Rangers considering how the team has struggled on the road. The Rangers 3-5-0 on the road and have been outscored 30-25 in those eight games.
Rangers Projected Lineup
#NYR lines remain the same:
Kreider – DD – Buch
Vesey -Hayes – Nash
Grabner – Miller – Zucc
Carey – Nieves – Fast
McDonagh – Holden (Kampfer rotating)
Skjei – Shatty
Staal – Smith
— Matt Calamia (@MattCalamia) December 4, 2017
The “KDB” line remains intact with Mika Zibanejad still out with a concussion. With Zibanejad out, that line has produced 10 points combined in just two games. The chemistry still seems to be there with David Desharnais filling in.
Kevin Hayes will be given a larger role in this one as he will most likely faceoff against Sidney Crosby. Hayes has elevated his game defensively this year and head coach Alain Vigneault has used Hayes against the opposition’s top center. Hayes did a solid job going against Connor McDavid and will be tested yet again against arguably the best player in the entire NHL.
Henrik Lundqvist will be making his 14th straight start against the Penguins. Lundqvist has raised his save percentage to .917 while goals-against average has dipped to 2.66. He is 4-0-0 in his last five games allowing nine goals over that span.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 4, 2017
Concussions are always a tricky thing to deal with. The Rangers want to take things slowly and carefully with this as they have seen what concussions can do to a player. With Zibanjead’s continued absence the Rangers will need more players to pick up their game. So far they have, but it won’t be easy against a team like Pittsburgh.