Whenever the playoffs get underway in New York City you always know that the crowd at Madison Square Garden is buzzing, especially when the Pittsburgh Penguins are the first round opponents who just squeaked into the final spot.
The Rangers knew that no matter how bad the Penguins just barely got into the playoffs, they have two dangerous players in Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin who can score at anytime. But this time the Rangers came out at the opening faceoff and told the Penguins that they were coming out hard and fast.
It took 28 seconds into the opening period for the Rangers to make a statement and they did so flawlessly. Dan Girardi skates out of his end and finds Rick Nash along the near boards on a hard pass, Nash took a shot at the net which was a save by Marc-Andre Fleury but left a juicy rebound for Derick Brassard who put it home.
The power play is always a concern for any team when they want to take advantage of their opposition and at 15:16 of the opening period Captain Ryan McDonagh took a Keith Yandle pass and ripped it hard past Fleury for a two goal lead. Even though the Penguins pulled one back in the second period by Blake Comeau, they couldn’t get another puck past Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers found a way to hold on and play some solid defense to take game one of this opening round. But while this was a great game for the Rangers to keep their shape and their confidence on the ice it looked like for the Penguins they lost their composure.
I have never seen a Penguins team either having Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr or now with Crosby & Malkin that started so undisciplined and getting tagged with four consecutive penalties against the Rangers with slashes, hooks, holdings and anything else you can get the refs to call were called which was very strange.
It looks like the Penguins tried to intimidate the Rangers and sadly for the team in black, white & Gold the Rangers were not buying it and they made sure not to get involved with the Penguins mind games. Some of the Penguins tried to get under the Rangers skins by taunting the Rangers players from Quebec province in French or in English on the rest of the team.
While the Rangers got off to a good start and many are touting them to get back to the finals, they need to go one game at a time and one round at a time. The Penguins may have had a bad game, but they are good enough to rebound and give the Rangers a tough series.
But for now it was a successful win for the Rangers and they know game 2 on Saturday will have a different feel and possibly a different game plan against him, but as long as Alain Vigneault keeps his guys on his plan they can be successful advancing out of Round 1.
Author: Dan Feuerstein