the names, and so do the Rangers:
Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin and Kris Letang. Mike Sullivan behind the bench. Though a lot has modified for the Rangers and Penguins because the final time they met within the playoffs, in 2016, these 4 are a well-known sight.
“ Pittsburgh,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant stated following his group’s 3-2 win Friday over the Capitals within the ultimate recreation of the common season.
The previous editions of the Penguins are well-known, however the Rangers have gotten fairly conversant in the present one, too.
They’ve confronted Pittsburgh 4 occasions this season, twice in every group’s respective constructing. The Penguins took the primary assembly, in February. Three of these video games had been performed since March 25, and the Rangers received all three of them, by scores of 5-1, 3-2, 3-0.
The Rangers’ Artemi Panarin (10) performs the puck in opposition to Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter (77) and Teddy Blueger (53) .USA TODAY Sports activities
“So far as I’m involved, that’s not within the image,” Gallant stated. “Simply trigger we beat them the final three, which means nothing to me. Gotta get able to play an actual good group, and it needs to be an actual good collection.”
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Gallant stated that as a result of the Rangers performed the Penguins lately, scouting them shall be slightly simpler, however that goes for each groups.
“We’re conversant in what they do and what sort of group that’s, however now it’s 0-0,” Mika Zibanejad stated. “Everybody begins at zero once more. I don’t assume that [having played them] makes an enormous distinction.”
Zibanejad wasn’t right here when the Penguins blew by the Rangers within the first spherical of the playoff in 2016 — the one holdover from that Blueshirts roster is Chris Kreider. However Zibanejad was with the Rangers a yr later when the Senators ended their season within the second spherical. That was the final time playoff hockey was performed at Madison Sq. Backyard.
“It’s been a grind,” Zibanejad stated. “Been a pair lengthy years. Positively definitely worth the wait to be again within the playoffs. this group that we now have, I’m tremendous glad I get to be part of the answer.”
It has been a protracted highway again, however the Rangers enter the postseason trying harmful. They’ll open the collection as favorites to beat Pittsburgh, and if Igor Shesterkin is at his finest in web, they’ll beat anybody on any night time. At 51-24-6, they proved themselves properly sufficient through the common season that Gallant spent the previous couple of weeks attempting to make the video games significant as a result of, in actuality, they weren’t.
On paper, the Rangers are a greater group than the Penguins, who’re coping with an injured Tristan Jarry in web and a doubtlessly harm Brian Dumoulin on protection.
Sidney Crosby shoots on Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin.AP
However within the playoffs, you’ll be able to throw that out.
“They’re a proficient group, they’re a talented group,” Gallant stated. “They bought lots of skilled guys, however once more, I like our group. We bought an excellent mixture of younger guys that took a step this yr for us big-time. I like what we’re gonna carry.”
There’s nonetheless the matter of Crosby and Malkin and Letang. Their mixed age is 104, and their mixed playoff expertise is 486 video games. That have will really feel the identical because it did six years in the past.
The Rangers, although, will really feel utterly completely different.
“ all these gamers,” Gallant stated. “That doesn’t fear us. We all know what they’re gonna carry.
“It’s about what we’re gonna carry. And we’ve accomplished all of it season, so we’re prepared for this collection.”