Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers: A quick 3 keys

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Brady Skjei
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Brady Skjei /

The Pittsburgh Penguins are taking on the New York Rangers on this miserable freezing Sunday.

Just a few hours after a devastating Steelers loss against the Jaguars, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take the ice at PPG Paints Arena.

The Rangers were most recently blown out by the New York Islanders 7-2 on Saturday.

The Pens are coming off three straight wins, the latest being a 4 -1 smackdown against the Detroit Red Wings.

Both teams currently have 49 points in the standings and hold a wild card spot in a tight Eastern Conference. This game represents a verrrrry important two points for both clubs. Here are three major keys (DJ Khaled voice) to securing a victory against the blue shirts.

Activate Hornqvist

It’s no secret that Patric Hornqvist is at his best when he’s in the blue paint of the opposing netminder.

It’s also no secret that Ranger’s goalie Henrik Lundqvist is not at his best when he’s upset.

But this hasn’t been the case, as Lundqvist has been solid this season. He’s posted a 19-10-4 record, with a 2.54 GAA and .923 SV %.

If Hornqvist can use his instigating abilities to soften up Lundqvist, the Pens will have an easier time getting pucks behind New York’s 2018 All-Star. In two games against NYR this season, Patric Hornqvist has a stat-line that includes 2 goals, 2 assists and a plus-3 rating.

3 Headed Monster

The Rangers have a decent penalty kill (83.9%), so the Pittsburgh Penguin offense might have to do damage at even strength.

Crosby, Malkin and Kessel combined for nine points against the Red Wings on Saturday. The Penguins have been at their best when all three of them are rolling, so if the Ghidorah can keep it up, it would bode well for Pittsburgh.

The past three games, their point totals look like this:

Crosby: 2 goals, 7 assists

Malkin: 5 goals, 3 assists

Kessel: 2 goals, 4 assists

Make it Easy for Jarry

Tristan Jarry will start again on Sunday. Matt Murray returned to Ontario for personal reasons, so the rookie will have to be solid in the second of back-to-back starts.

As good as he’s been, the best way to preserve a win is to make it as easy as possible for Jarry. He did win both of his last back-to-back starts, but that was against a weak Buffalo team.

This translates to keeping a speedy New York team in check, and keeping their forwards out of the crease.

Zuccarello, Kreider, and Grabner are all very fleet of foot, and could pose an issue for a slow Penguins defense. The Pens D has been toasted one more than account this season, but if they can keep the breakaways and odd man rushes to a minimum, it’s makes the goaltender’s job that much easier.

Players like Kreider and JT Miller are notorious for being hardnosed and playing until the whistle. Oleksiak and company need to stand tall and prevent them from getting extra sticks on Jarry.

Next: Phil Kessel Snubbed

The puck drops at 7:30 EST and will air on NBCSN. Remember there’s only one anthem, so turn your TV on in time. Let’s Go Pens!