New York Rangers Game Thread: 4/16, Penguins at Rangers - Game 1

The New York Rangers will kick off the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight at Madison Square Garden for Game 1 of the Metropolitan Division Semifinals.

Metropolitan Division Semifinals - Game 1

Pittsburgh penguins.vcff3791 VS.

[ Series Tied 0-0 ]

Television: MSG, ROOT, TVA, CBC, NBCSN
Madison Square Garden - New York, NY - 7:00 PM
Penguins: 43-27-12 | Rangers: 53-22-7
Regular Season Series: 3-0-1, Rangers

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The New York Rangers will kick off their 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs journey tonight at Madison Square Garden for Game 1. After closing out the regular season with a huge 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals, the Rangers have had time to rest and prepare for this evening's matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many are expecting the Rangers to make this a quick series, and while there is a chance that it may happen, underestimating the Penguins could be a big mistake.

Anytime you go up against a lineup that consists of Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin, there is always a chance of either player taking over the game entirely. It's certainly not going to be an easy task, but if the Rangers stick to their system like they have been all season long, they can work wonders. Aside from Kevin Klein, who is expected back at some point this round, the Rangers are heading into this series relatively healthy everywhere else.

On the other hand, the Penguins aren't so lucky, as they are heading into tonight's game missing three key pieces on defense. Kris Letang (concussion) is expected to miss the entire playoffs, while Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) and Derrick Pouliot (upper-body) are both considered day-to-day. Neither Ehrhoff nor Pouliot will be in the lineup tonight, which means two of Taylor Chorney, Brian Dumoulin, or Scott Harrington will dress for the Penguins. With the Rangers having last change tonight, Alain Vigneault has an opportunity to exploit the Penguins weakness on defense with his line matching.

If last night's games were a primer for tonight, we're in for one heck of a ride.

Bryan's Player to Watch: Rick Nash

It's no surprise that Rick Nash struggled quite a bit last year during the playoffs, and didn't provide the Rangers with his timely goal scoring. However, he responded immensely during the regular season this year, and he'll be relied upon once again in the playoffs to provide goal scoring. After going through the grind of a playoff run last season, it will be interesting to see how Nash responds this time around. He'll need to provide the Rangers will same type of energy in the playoffs if they plan on making another deep run.