Breaking down the Penguins' 2nd-round playoff matchup
Not only did the Penguins avoid the Flyers — and the circus-like atmosphere that would accompany a second-round Stanley Cup playoff series with their bitter, in-state rivals — but they draw a favorable matchup in the Rangers.
The Penguins have dominated the Rangers in the postseason, winning 16 of 20 postseason games against them.
In four regular-season meetings in 2013-14, which the teams split, center Sidney Crosby and winger Chris Kunitz tied for the team lead with six points apiece. Kunitz led the way with three goals.
The four-game series was penalty-filled. This season, the Penguins and Rangers averaged 19.2 penalty minutes. That increased to 26.0 when the teams played each other.
Special teams went the Penguins' way. They converted 5 of 14 power plays and killed 12 of the Rangers' 15 chances. New York has experienced major problems on the penalty kill. Though they were third in the NHL during the regular season at 85.3 percent, they struggled against the Flyers.
• The teams split four meetings, with each winning in the shootout. The Rangers outshot the Penguins, 133-118, in those games, but the Penguins converted on 5 of 14 (35.7 percent) power-play chances.
Goals: Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen, 3
Assists: Paul Martin, 8
Points: Matt Niskanen and Martin, 8
Plus-minus: Martin, plus-7
Penalty minutes: Kris Letang, 10
Goals: Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Dominic Moore and Mats Zuccarello, Daniel Carcillo, Benoit Pouliot, 2
Assists: Richards, St. Louis and Rick Nash, 4
Points: St. Louis and Richards, 6
Plus-minus: Marc Staal, plus-6
Penalty minutes: Hagelin, 10
Penguins•Marc-Andre Fleury: 4-2-2, .908 save percentage, 2.81 goals-against average
Henrik Lundqvist: 4-3, .919, 2.11
• The last postseason meeting came in 2008 when center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Marian Hossa scored four goals apiece during a five-game victory in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Will Sid score?
Not exactly digging deep here by expecting the franchise center to score playoff goal No. 1. Still, that's the predicament the Penguins are in. Crosby made plays and finished with six assists against Columbus. Yet this is a player with 111 career points in the playoffs, including 40 goals.
Will Flower bloom?
“There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't got a question in this room about it,” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma on Wednesday, referencing goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's confidence. A first-round series win over Columbus did little to alleviate concerns over Fleury's shakiness in the postseason.
Will Kreider play?
Left wing Chris Kreider (left hand) was handling a puck and taking shots Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News. Kreider had 17 goals and 37 points this season but hasn't played since March 25.
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