Pittsburgh Penguins Face a Must-Win vs. the New York Rangers in Game 4


The Pittsburgh Penguins will face the New York Rangers for game 4 tonight at Consol Energy Center, and they’ve officially reached must-win status.

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While a loss tonight doesn’t technically eliminate them, can you realistically imagine this team erasing a 3-1 series deficit having to return to Madison Square Garden for game 5? It simply won’t happen.

That being said, I believe the Pittsburgh Penguins have shown enough to have a shot at tying things up tonight. The Rangers have been far less impressive than I expected and haven’t dictated play as much as they probably should. Are they underestimating the Penguins? I don’t believe so. I simply think the Pens are a better matchup for the Rangers than most people give them credit for. Though, their depth issues are certainly starting to show, especially on defense.

The lineup looks to be the same as what we saw in game 3 for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. Mike Johnston spoke to the media after the Pens held an optional game day skate and stated that Derrick Pouliot is very close to returning. However, Christian Ehrhoff was once again absent from practice and still isn’t progressing in his recovery.

New York Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault stated that Kevin Klein is taking slap shots, which is a good sign. He’s likely to return at some point in this series, but won’t play tonight, as they want him to get a full practice in first.

Players to Watch
I’m going to refrain from a large “players to watch” section for this one because it’s very simple. The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to live and die based on the performance of Evgeni Malkin.

Geno has yet to record a point in this series, and his overall pointless streak is at eight games. He hasn’t scored a goal in his last thirteen games. It is well known at this point that Malkin is dealing with a nagging injury of some sort, but he continues to skate in optional game day practices. Read into that however you like, but in my opinion, if his injury is severe enough to hamper his play he shouldn’t be skating any more than necessary.

Keys to the Game
Score goals…

Seems pretty simple, right? After all of the analysis I’ve done on this series, the matchups, and it’s underlying numbers, one thing is very evident. The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing fairly good hockey but simply can’t score. According to everyone that has spoken to the media about it, they need to shoot more. They need to stop looking for the pretty pass, shoot, and create traffic.

My issue with those answers is that they’ve been played on repeat since January. Stop talking about it and get out there and do it. Your season now depends on it.

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