Penguins have solid history against Rangers
Broadway suits the Penguins just fine.
The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs will begin for the Penguins on Friday at Consol Energy Center when they host a team that has almost always provided a favorable matchup.
Another flurry of success against the New York Rangers will send the Penguins back to the Eastern Conference final. The Penguins, though, aren't expecting an easy stroll through Central Park against the Rangers, despite their 4-0 all-time record against them in playoff series.
“This is a good team we're about to play,” left wing Tanner Glass said. “Very solid.”
Statistics, though, suggest the Penguins are the favorite in this series.
Since taking over as Penguins coach in 2009, Dan Bylsma's record against the Rangers is 17-7-3. His record against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden is 9-4-0.
With Sidney Crosby in the lineup — Crosby has missed nine games against the Rangers in the Bylsma era because of injuries — the Penguins record against New York is 13-4-1. When Bylsma has Crosby at his disposal, the Penguins are 7-2-0 at Madison Square Garden.
“There are no real secrets against them,” left wing Chris Kunitz said, making a specific note of the Penguins' success against Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
“The way to beat him is to get dirty goals. Get the puck on net, bang away, get five or six rebound opportunities and keep shooting.”
Although Lundqvist is the more decorated goaltender in this series, Marc-Andre Fleury has held the edge in their meetings.
Fleury's 26 wins against the Rangers are the most against any team.
Lundqvist's 26 overtime and regulation losses against the Penguins are the most he has suffered against any team by a large margin. New Jersey has beaten Lundqvist 20 times, good for second on his all-time list.
The Penguins have beaten Lundqvist in 26 of their past 48 meetings, despite Crosby and center Evgeni Malkin missing many games against the Rangers during the past five years.
Malkin suggested Thursday that, while he greatly respects Lundqvist, the Penguins aren't intimidated by the goaltender.
“He's my favorite goalie,” Malkin said. “I like him a lot. (But) He can't stop every shot. If we screen him, go to the net, wait for rebounds, maybe sometimes (we'll score). It's a good chance to score.”
The Rangers haven't showcased a superstar center since Mark Messier a generation ago, which has given Crosby and Malkin an opportunity to shine against them.
Crosby has 65 points in 47 games against the Rangers, his third-highest total against any team. Malkin has produced 39 points in his career against the Rangers, his fourth-highest total against any team.
Without a goal through six playoff games, Crosby thinks the Penguins will be fine should they duplicate their performances from the final two games of the Columbus series.
“The thing is to get better as the playoffs go on,” Crosby said. “I think we've done a good job of that.”
Although the Penguins have thrived against the Rangers historically, this New York team is different. First-year coach Alain Vigneault has installed a more aggressive style, as the shot-blocking days of former coach John Tortorella, while not completely abolished, have been replaced by more of an offensive approach.
Glass, who played under Vigneault in Vancouver, expects an in-your-face approach from the Rangers.
“He wants the (defensive) gap to be tight everywhere,” Glass said. “Our ‘D' would be halfway coming out of our zone, and I can still hear him yelling, ‘Up! Up!' ”
Bylsma also acknowledges the Rangers showcase a different, more skilled look with the addition of right wing Martin St. Louis.
Even if the Rangers style has changed, the Penguins hope their historical dominance against them lives on.
“We just want to keep playing the way we finished the last series,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “We feel pretty good about ourselves.”