The Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the New York Rangers in Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Playoffs.
The Penguins are coming into this game with a much-needed win vs the Blue Jackets in their last game of the NHL Regular Season. Prior to this, the Pens had lost 7 out of their last 13 games. Not exactly screaming “juggernaut team” as they enter Round 1.
The New York Rangers meanwhile, also grabbed a win in their last game against the Capitals. NYR had racked up 8 wins in their last 12 games. Yikes my peeps, they look like they are for real entering Round 1.
By The Numbers…as of May 01.2022
Recent History: 2020-21 Covid-19 Season (Penguins 6 Wins – 2 Losses)
Current: 2021-22 – (Penguins 1 Win – 3 Losses)
Feb26.22 Pens Win 1-0
The Feb 26th, game was an awesome game to watch. It was end-to-end action, with big hits at high speed and great goaltending from both Shesterkin and Jarry. It has a playoff feel to the game and it appears the Penguins and Rangers will be battling it out for the remainder of the season, headed towards an inevitable, intense, and fiercely contested, Round 1 matchup in the 2022 NHL Playoffs. (I called it back in February…now that’s cool).
March 25.22 Pens Lose 5-1 @ NYR
The Penguins sputtered, while the Rangers came out firing on all cylinders and beat up the Pens, no contest here.
March 29.22 Pens Lose 3-2 @ Pitts
The Penguins showed up to play in this one. The Pens battled hard, came to understand what it will take to beat NYR in May, however they came up just a little short is all.
April 07.22 Pens Lose 3-0 @ NYR
3 – Zip says it all. The Penguins were beat by the better goalie, lost the defensive battle and shot an offensive blank. Sometimes you just have to tap out and call “uncle”.
Canes 54-20-8 = 116 Points
NYR 52-24-6 = 110 Points
Pens 46-25-11 = 103 Points
The Penguins had a combined 11 Overtime and Shootout Losses. If they had a flipped the script in OT, they would have challenged for First Place in the division. I know, I know, ifs n buts, soup n nuts…I get it. Not sayin’ just sayin’.
New York Rangers Additions
Tyler Motte #64 – F – from Vancouver for a 4th Round Pick.
Andrew Copp #18 – F – and a 2023 6th Round Pick from Winnipeg for Morgan Barron, a conditional 2022 2nd Round Pick, and a 2022 or 2023 2nd Round Pick and a 2023 5th Round Pick.
Nick Merkley – F from San Jose for Anthony Bitetto – D.
Justin Braun # 61 – D from Philadelphia for a 2023 3rd Round Pick.
Frank Vatrano #77 – F from Florida for a 4th Round Pick.
This is what I call Depth my friends. By adding Motte, Copp and Vatrano, NYR basically re-built an entire checking line on their hockey team. These new additions will plug holes in every line on the team, as wee speak. Merkley simply adds overall depth, and by adding Braun on the backend, the Rangers have solidified their D.
Now everyone was expecting the Rangers to trade netminder, Georgiev. By not trading him, NYR has essentially added a quality backup goalie for this years playoffs.
The New York Rangers had a stockpile of draft picks, and cashed in some of those chips, expecting a long Playoff run this year.
Who saw this coming?
Vatrano ended up on the First Line scoring, 8 goals, 5 assists for 13 points in 22 games played.
Copp ended up on the Second Line scoring, 8 goals, 10 assists for 18 points in 16 games played.
Wow, now that is how you pull off some Trade Deadline Magic.
Pittsburgh Penguin Additions
Rickard Rakell #67 – F from the Ducks for Zach Aston-Reese, a 2022 2nd Round Pick and Dominik Simon.
Nathan Beaulieu – D from Winnipeg for a conditional 7th Round Pick.
Well, the Penguins addressed the secondary scoring issue on the team, by adding Rackell. They have also added depth on D, for the Playoffs.
Rackel ended up on the Second Line, scoring 4 goals, 9 assists for 13 points in 19 games played.
The Kapanen trade did not happen. Nor did the upgrade for a back up Netminder. This tells us what you see is what you get from the Penguins for this years NHL Playoff run.
Was the late season slump the case of a tired hockey team, or an upset bunch of Pending Free Agents, not willing to put their body on the line without a future contract?
2021-2022 NHL Playoffs – Round 1
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers
This one is Must-See-TV.
Rangers – Players to Watch
Panarin #10 – F -11th Overall in NHL scoring, with 96 Points. He is the set-up man with 74 assists.
Kreider #20 – F – 3rd Overall in the NHL, with 52 Goals. 26 goals on the Power Play says something.
Adam Fox #23 – D – 4th in NHL scoring for Defensemen, with 74 Points. The Quarterback of the Power Play.
Shesterkin #31 –G – 1st Overall in the NHL, with a .935 save % as well as 1st overall in the NHL with a 2.07 GAA. Say hello the 2022 Vezina Trophy winner.
Pittsburgh – Players to Watch
Crosby #87 – F – 24th Overall in NHL scoring, with 84 Points. Sid still does it all, year in year out, he can score, set up and make plays as well as defend. He is the Leader of the Penguins, as he goes, they go.
Guentzel #59 -F – 15th Overall in the NHL, with 40 Goals. The sniper of the team.
Letang #59 – D – 5th Overall in the NHL for Defensemen, with 68 Points. He is the Quarterback of the Pens attack.
Jarry #35 – G – CURRENTLY INJURED >>6th Overall in the NHL, with .919 Save % as well as 6th overall with a 2.42 GAA.
Pending Free Agents Playing for contracts at the end of this season. Will they be motivated to produce in the Playoffs?
Letang #58 -D – age 34 – $7,250,000.
Malkin#71 -F – age 35 – $9,500,000.
Rust #17-F -age 29-$3,500,000.
Rodrigues #9 – F –age 28-$1,000,000.
Kapanen $42 -F-age 25- $3,200,000.
Pittsburgh Penguins Record 46-25-11 = 103 Pts (3rd in the Metropolitan)
NYR Record 52-24-6 = 110 Pts (2nd in the Metropolitan)
Pittsburgh Goals For 272
NYR Goals For 254
The Penguins can score goals in bunches. Can they produce in May, that is the question.
The Penguins Win when they score 4.3 goals per game. We shall see how many they can get by Shesterkin.
Pittsburgh Goals Against 229
NYR Goals Against 207
The Rangers have been more consistent on Defense throughout this season. We shall see over the course of this series if it was more smoke and mirrors or legit D.
The Penguins Win when they give up 1.76 goals per game.
Pittsburgh Goal Differential +43
NYR Goal Differential +47
Pittsburgh Power Play 20.2%
NYR Power Play 25.2%
This NYR PP is legit, ranking 4th overall in the NHL. They can score Period.
Pittsburgh Penalty Kill 84.4%
NYR Penalty Kill 82.3%
This Penguin PK is Legit, ranking 3rd overall in the NHL. They can Kill off Penalties Period.
Pittsburgh Penalty Minutes 566
NYR Penalty Minutes 675
The Penguins Win when they only take 7.04 Minutes in Penalties per game.
Pittsburgh Shots Per Game 34.7
NYR Shots Per Game 29.2
The Penguins Win when they shoot 35.36 shots per game.
Pittsburgh Team Faceoff 51.1%
NYR Team Faceoff 48.1%
The Penguins Win when they average 51.47% in the Face-Off Circle per game.
Pittsburgh Team Goals Against Average 2.71
NYR Team Goals Against Average 2.49
Pittsburgh Team Save % .919
NYR Team Save % .921
Pittsburgh G – Jarry #35 2.42 GAA, (was 2.38 GAA as of Feb26.22)
NYR G- Shesterkin #31 2.07 GAA, (was 1.98 GAA as of Feb26.22)
Pittsburgh G – Jarry #35 .919 Save%, (was .919 Save % as of Feb26.22)
NYR G- Shesterkin #31 .935 Save%, (was .940 Save % as of Feb26.22)
The Penguins Win when…
The Penguins Win when they average 13.56 Blocked Shots per game.
The Penguins Win when they get on average 12.84 of their Shots Blocked per game.
The Penguins Win when they average 7.63 Turnovers per game. I think this will be a key stat to watch over the course of this series. To many Pens turnovers will lead to a NYR series win.
The Penguins Win when their Opposition averages 7.52 Turnovers per game.
The Penguins are ranked 22nd overall in the NHL for O-Zone Giveaways. Meaning they don’t give up the puck in the Oppositions Zone. Penguins Puck Possession potentially can win them this series.
The Penguins are ranked 27th overall in the NHL for D-Zone Giveaways. Meaning they don’t give up the puck in their own Zone. The Pens seem to get out of their zone with ease on most nights.
The Penguins are ranked 11th overall in the NHL for being Offside. Not bad, not great.
The Penguins are ranked 16th overall in the NHL for forcing their Opposition to be offside. Meaning the Penguins are forcing their opposition at their blueline, which disrupts their entry into the Pens Zone.
The Penguins are ranked 3rd overall in the NHL for Icing the Puck. Meaning the Penguins are running around in their own zone and need to ice the puck to relieve the pressure.
The Penguins are ranked 10th overall in the NHL for forcing their Opposition into Icing the Puck. Meaning the Penguins are putting O-Zone Pressure on their Opposition forcing them to ice the puck.
Panarin – April 25.22 IR DTD Upper Body
Copp – April 25.22 IR DTD Lower Body
Motte –April 6.22 IR DTD Upper Body
Blais -Nov 13.21 IR Torn ACL
Zucker– April25.22 DTD Undisclosed
Jarry -April14.22 IR Lower Body-foot
Beaulieu – March 03.22 IR Lower body
Pens Picks Quick View
Special Teams: Tied
Shots Per Game: Pittsburgh
Faceoff Win%: Pittsburgh
The Penguins Game Plan
Win the Draw and Maintain Puck Possession.
Shoot as many pucks at Shersterkin as possible.
Start Fast and Score First. The Penguins scored first in 36 of their 46 Wins. Meaning when the Penguins score first, they win 78.26% of the time.
Jarry needs to Play and return to his All- Star Form or it’s over.
64.7% chance of Making it out of Round 1.
11.9% chance of Making it to the Finals.
5.2% chance of Wining the Cup.
The Penguin Formula is Simple, Score First, Play Tight Team D and your Goalie needs to make the saves at the “Right Time”. No Jarry = No Hope.
My View from the Cheap Seats
Well, we made it to May. If you think back to late October and early November, just making the playoffs seemed like a dream come true. However, We Are Penguins We Want More.
We are all used to watching the Annual New York Ranger Seasonal Slump. They look legit this year, so here is hoping for the return of All-Star Goalie Jarry and for this year’s NYR slump to occur during Round 1.
This will be the last March of these 3 Great Penguins (Letang, Malkin and Crosby). The Band is playing together one last time folks. So, let’s just enjoy this last song.
We Are Penguins We Expect More…More Chips that is.
This will be a great series to watch. I can see it going 7-games. Let’s see if the final song ends with a parade.
Quote of the Day
“This might seem like the End of an Era. However, in reality, it is simply the Beginning of a New Chapter. “