Rangers Look to Rebound Against Surging Pens

The Rangers take on the Penguins for third of four regular season meetings tonight in Pittsburgh.

Each team has been victorious on the opponents ice in the previous two games, although the Blueshirts, as a result of taking the meeting at The Garden in October to overtime, did gain an extra point in the standings. Given how close things are in the Metropolitan Division who knows how important that extra point may turn out to be.

[Watch Rangers-Flyers Tuesday on MSG & MSG GO]

Both teams saw action yesterday, playing their first game coming out of the mandatory five-day break in the schedule. There could not have been a more distinctively different result in each of those games.

The Rangers were beaten by the Islanders 7-2, falling victim to the brilliant play of the 20-year old rookie, Mathew Barzal. As the game progressed through the opening period, poor puck management, poorer decision making without the puck, and perhaps most glaringly, playing with an utter lack of emotion after falling behind 5-1 early in the second period, the Blueshirts deserved the fate they received.

Al Trautwig and Steve Valiquette take a closer look at the return of Kevin Hayes and an Isles offensive barrage that was too much for the Rangers to overcome.

There is very little one can take from this game other than you are afforded an opportunity while there still is time to find the game that gives you a chance., keeping in mind that the games are ticking away. There have been times this season where this group has come off the mat and re-established a solid game. With urgency becoming a larger reality, it’s that time again.

Meanwhile, the Penguins beat Detroit 4-1 yesterday. Prior to the Rangers-Islander game, there was much talk of the Rangers needing more from their top players. Well, Pittsburgh’s top players sure took that message to heart. The three stars of the game were Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby. The three combined for a total of thirteen points against the Wings. The Penguins, who have won three consecutive, are getting healthy and their top players are heating up. Not good news for the rest of the Metro Division.

Ryan McDonagh offers an honest assessment of where this Rangers team is right now after a tough loss to the Islanders.

3 KEYS TO RANGERS-PENGUINS

1. Protect Hank

The Penguins attack with pucks and bodies from any angle in the offensive zone. The Penguins acknowledge just how important The King is to the success of the Blueshirts. There must be a committed effort to block out pucks and bodies and protect the Rangers’ most critical asset. Hank.

Henrik Lundqvist talks about what he said to the team when he entered the game and how they have to regroup following this loss.

2. Pinching

Yesterday’s thrashing at the hands of the Islanders came as a result of Mathew Barzal’s ability to counteract sloppy offensive zone pinches. The Penguins have at least three world-class players in Crosby, Malkin and Kessel who will bury you if pinch unwisely.

3. Gut Check-Mind Check

The trends of recent games, which have not been great, culminated in yesterday’s loss to the Islanders. Emotion from the gut and smartness from the head will at least give you a chance. This team needs more from the mind and even more from the gut.

[Watch Rangers-Flyers Tuesday on MSG & MSG GO]

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.