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Next Up For The Rangers - Crosby & The Pens

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After squeaking their way through a best 2-of-3 in 4 nights against the Flyers, the schedule makers didn’t do the Blueshirts any favors. They’ll get to rest up today before another 3-in-4 against Pennsylvania’s better half. Here’s the series schedule – someone please make sure Rick Nash gets this & RSVPs:

Friday, May 2 at 7 p.m. at Pittsburgh
Sunday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Pittsburgh
Monday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at NY Rangers
Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at NY Rangers
*Friday, May 9 at TBD at Pittsburgh
*Sunday, May 11 at TBD at NY Rangers
*Tuesday, May 13 at TBD at Pittsburgh

Let’s just get through the most decided advantage, which is obviously between the pipes. Lundqvist gives the Rangers a puncher’s chance against anyone, while Fleury…well, sucks. The Flower has wilted habitually under playoff pressure since his final two games against Detroit in the Penguins’ ’09 Cup year. Columbus put 3+ past him in five of six first round games & I’d like to think NY’s depth can continue that trend. If Pittsburgh advances, it will be in spite of their goaltender – not because of him. On the flipside, Hank will most likely need to be series MVP for an appearance in the ECF.

It’s not gonna be easy though. Offensive talent clearly favors Crosby, Malkin & Co. These teams haven’t met since prior to the Olympic break, but all four games in their regular season split topped the 5.5 o/u. That’s not where the Rangers want to live. They not only have to worry about Pitt’s forwards, but their two leading post-season scorers are a pair of blue-liners not named Letang. Considering how the Blueshirts’ PK struggled a bit against Philly, they’ll need to stay out of the box or the top-ranked Penguin power play could put them away. Refs do love them some Sid, though…

Both teams are soft as baby shit. The Pens have scumbag potential, but the Rangers are clearly the better defensive team – especially if Orpik continues to miss time. Staal & Stralman played more like a 1B pairing to beat the Flyers and will need to continue to do so. The wild card is when Chris Kreider returns. Carcillo was huge when called upon, but Kreider’s size & speed is a necessity. He’s been skating and finally shot some pucks yesterday, so hopefully he’s back sooner than later. Either way, the longer this series goes, the better for the Blueshirts. Call me a homer, but I say Lundqvist makes sure they’re not a quick out. Prediction: Rangers…in 7, of course.

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