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Rangers Vs. Penguins: Kreider Hurt, Rangers Desperate for a Win

Kreider gets injured in practice and the Rangers are trying to do everything they can to avoid returning to a .500 record tonight against Crosby and the Penguins.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Rangers are going after two huge points against the class of the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 18-6-2 on the season and are 9-2-1 on the road... which is absolutely terrifying news for the Rangers. It's true that the Penguins are currently a bit banged up and won't have the services of some key players tonight, but so long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in the lineup for the Pens the Rangers will have their hands full.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>FWIW, Penguins banged up, good op Monday for Rangers, presumably desperate to erase memory of Detroit loss.</p>&mdash; Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) <a href="">December 7, 2014</a></blockquote>
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We've all seen how the Rangers have played defense against teams like the Lightning and Red Wings lately and how frequently lapses in defensive coverage, turnovers, and failing to protect the net has turned into goals for the opposition. The Penguins feast on those things, especially with the elite talent they have in their lineup. Tonight, the Rangers are going to need to be razor sharp in their own zone and are going to have to keep their discipline. If the Rangers give Pittsburgh too many chances on the power play they will eventually get burned because it is only ever a matter of time when Crosby or Malkin have the puck on their stick.

To add to the Rangers' concerns it appears that Tanner Glass is rapidly approaching a return to the lineup and struggling power forward Chris Kreider is now banged up after a collision with Carl Hagelin in an intense practice yesterday.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Kreider had collision with Hagelin, was on knees, appears to be upper-body</p>&mdash; Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) <a href="">December 7, 2014</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Only specifics from AV on Kreider was that he was &quot;a little shaken up...&quot;</p>&mdash; Steve Zipay (@stevezipay) <a href="">December 7, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The Rangers currently lead the season series against the Penguins 1-0-1 although the most recent game between the two clubs was a 3-2 shootout loss for the Blueshirts on November 15th. Martin St. Louis has scored 2 of his 10 goals this season against Marc-Andre Fleury and in the season series the Rangers are outscoring the Penguins 7 to 2. Thus far the Rangers have played very well against Crosby's Penguins and tonight they are going to have to do their best to assert their will and play very different than they have in their last two games. If the Rangers lose in regulation tonight they will once again be back to a .500 hockey club and that will be a tough pill to swallow for a team that was competing against the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup last spring.

After tonight's game the Rangers have another extended break until they start a four game road trip that starts with a 10 PM EST game against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and ends on December 20th in Carolina. The only thing worse than losing to the Penguins tonight and being a .500 hockey team in December is having to wait until Saturday to turn things around against a resurgent Vancouver Canucks hockey club. That will be a long time for the players to beat themselves up and for Rangers fans to grow impatient and slowly but surely lose their minds.

It looks like Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for the Rangers tonight. In two games against the Penguins he has allowed 2 goals and has recorded a shutout. The best way for the Rangers to respond to losing a 2 goal lead on the road against the Detroit Red Wings is to start to putting some wins together, and that has to start tonight against the shorthanded Pittsburgh Penguins.