What season is it?
Is this 2011-12? 2013-14? Or 2017-18?
You might ask, what’s the connection between these three seasons?
During the 2013-14 campaign the Blueshirts started off 3-7-0. This year they started 3-7-2. Ring a bell?
The 2013-14 season saw the Rangers go all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
Back in the 2011-12 season nobody knew what to expect from the Blueshirts. And the defending champs were the Boston Bruins.
The Rangers invaded TD Garden on January 21, 2012, and it was rightly viewed as a big test of their ability.
The Rangers won the game 3-2 in overtime — a classic Original Six battle for supremacy — with Marian Gaborik scoring the overtime winner; his second of the game.
Many pegged that game as a springboard for the Blueshirts run to the Eastern Conference Final.
Entering this season nobody quite knew what to expect from the 7th Avenue Skaters. And the Pittsburgh Penguins are two-time defending Cup-champions.
Just like that snowy night in Boston 2012, this game against Pittsburgh is viewed as a measuring stick for how far the current Blueshirts can go.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Current Penguins’ winger Carl Hagelin spent his first four seasons with the Blueshirts. (2011-2015).
Rangers’ Team president Glen Sather played two seasons for Pittsburgh. (1969-71).
Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Sullivan was the Blueshirts’ Assistant Coach from 2009-13. And Sullivan was drafted by the Rangers in the fourth-round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.
Michael Grabner: The “Austrian Rocket” will play in his 500th career NHL game.
Chris Kreider: His next goal will be the 100th of his career. Ditto for his next assist.
Nick Holden: The defenseman’s next point will be the 100th of his career.
PLAYER TO WATCH
PENGUINS: SIDNEY CROSBY. The Penguins’ captain is red-hot with 13-points in his last six-games — five-straight multi-point contests. Need I say more?
RANGERS: RYAN MCDONAGH. The captain came back from injury in time to suit up for the team’s contest against Carolina on Friday night. He played a team-high 22:54. McDonagh has scored more goals against the Penguins (5) than any other team he’s faced. And he has seven-points (2G, 5A) in his last eight contests against Pittsburgh.
It might sound like a broken record but Alain Vigneault doesn’t like to change his lineup after a victory.
Mika Zibanejad will miss his third straight game with a concussion.
And Henrik Lundqvist will make his 15th straight start. Something he couldn’t be happier about that.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on NBCSN at 7:30pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
This Metropolitan Division matchup kicks off a run of four-straight intra-division games for the Rangers.
With the Metro Division standings as tight as they are, every game and every point matter. And this could be two of the biggest points the Blueshirts fight for all season.