There is no penguin more dangerous than the one tobogganing uphill.
Thanks largely to winning their last six home games Pittsburgh is 16-7-4 at home this season and 7-2-1 in their last ten games. They are also coming off of a 6-2 to hammering of the Anaheim Ducks- a team that has done an exceedingly good job of keeping pucks out of their net this season thanks to rookie John Gibson. Yep, you could say that the Penguins are a hot hockey team right now and a big part of that is their captain.
After a disconcerting start to the season Crosby suddenly has 53 points in 51 games played and simply can't be stopped right now. The Penguins' change in head coach to former Rangers' assistant Mike Sullivan has apparently been just what the doctor ordered for Crosby and the Penguins. There simply isn't a more dangerous player in the division, the conference, or the league right now than Crosby.
The turnover-happy and Ryan McDonagh-less Rangers defense group will be facing a very difficult test tonight against the Penguins in their home barn. The only relief the Rangers will be getting is that Evgeni Malkin has been ruled out for the rest of the week as of today which means that the Rangers should have an advantage in regards to their depth down the middle against Pittsburgh. Nick Bonino, Beau Bennett, and Eric Fehr are also all out for the Penguins.
Rangers' forward Rick Nash is starting to walk without suffering pain from his bone bruise, but he will stay off the ice for the next few days. If a forward not named J.T. Miller manages to score a goal tonight, chances are that it will improve new York's chances of coming away with a point or two tonight on the road.
Will we see Keith Yandle get top pairing minutes again tonight after that costly late turnover against the Devils? With the Rangers' captain out the story of the night will once again be what the ice time and deployment of the Blueshirts blueliners looks like. Hopefully we will get to see youngster Dylan McIlrath get a fair shake and see some ice with Yandle in a game that should give us a better of idea of just how good he is.
The trade deadline is on February 29th at 3PM. Will the Rangers stick with Yandle and take their chances with re-signing him before he hits the open market this offseason, or will they move him when his price is at its highest and stock the somewhat depleted cupboard with prospects, assets, and picks? I guess we will all find out soon.
The puck drops tonight just after 8:00 PM.