Is Martin St. Louis a Hall of Famer?



Rangers Hope To Secure Place Among League's Elite In Date With The Penguins

Derek Stepan has drawn lofty praise from Coach John Tortorella

Derek Stepan has drawn lofty praise from Coach John Tortorella

When: Tuesday, November 29, 7:30 p.m.

Opponent: vs. Pittsburgh (14-6-4)

TV: MSG, Versus


 UPDATE: Henrik Lundvist will start again for New York.  Defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Kris Letang are out for Pittsburgh. (5:22 p.m.)

UPDATE: Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for Pittsburgh.  (12:26 p.m.)

UPDATE: ESPN New York's Katie Strang reports that Marc Staal has begun skating on his own.  Staal hasn't started skating with his teammates yet, but this is the best sign yet that Staal will play this season. (11:44 a.m.)


EARLIER: A week ago, skeptics of New York’s early season success could point to a string of cupcake opponents that buoyed the Rangers during their seven-game winning streak.  But consecutive victories over the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers - two consensus Stanley Cup Contenders – this weekend forced many to start believing the Rangers are for real.

The Blueshirts (6-1-1 at home) sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but that’s not indicative of the team’s true place in the standings.  With San Jose's loss last night there's not a team in the league that has picked up points at a rate equal to New York this season.

The Rangers’ next opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-5-2 on the road), looms just five points ahead and currently leads the Eastern Conference.

New York has four games in hand on the Penguins, so it might be fair to say that at the quarter mark the Rangers have kept pace and perhaps outperformed the NHL’s current points leader.

Of course, that may change in a hurry now that Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby back in the lineup.  The Kid was concussed in early January 2011 and finally returned to action a week ago.

Crosby scored in just his third shift against the New York Islanders in his first game back and went on to tally two goals and two assists in his season debut.  Now four games into his return, Crosby is settling in and has already racked up two goals and six assists.

Pittsburgh was arguably the league’s best team before Crosby returned, but the Penguins have gone 3-0-1 since their captain re-joined them and right now it’s hard to argue that the Penguins are the early Cup favorite.

Folks around the hockey world have already begun to take notice of the Blueshirts, but a victory over Crosby and the Penguins could force many more to acknowledge that New York is indeed among the league’s better teams.

To accomplish that, New York must contain Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of Pittsburgh’s sixth-ranked offense.

Shutting them down entirely may be an impossible task even for Henrik Lundqvist and New York’s stalwart shutdown defensive pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, which means that the Rangers will require a strong offensive performance.

Consistent offensive production has been New York’s biggest bugaboo at the 20-game mark.  The Rangers exploded for six goals on Friday, but have managed just three goals in the three games surrounding their shellacking of the Capitals.

The Blueshirts do have power play goals in consecutive games for just the third time this season, so perhaps a timely man advantage goal could be enough to swing the tide.

But though Pittsburgh is better known for its dynamic offense, the Penguins aren’t handing out scoring chances to their opponents.  Marc-Andre Fleury has been magnificent in the early going and is a key reason the Penguins rank eighth in goals against and second on the penalty kill.

The Rangers have their work cut out for them and expecting the team to sweep a three-game set against Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh may be unreasonable.  But if the Blueshirts want to be mentioned among the game’s elite, here’s their chance.


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Posted by Kevin Baumer | November 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

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New York Rangers VS Boston Bruins
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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