Key Observations Heading Into Game 2 Between the Penguins and Rangers

The Pens Nation Gameday Report

By: Casey Johnston (@PensNationCasey)

Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals was a back-and-forth game in which both teams spent considerable amounts of time controlling the play.  The Rangers, however, controlled the beginning when they jumped out to a 2-0 lead and the end when they scored the game-clinching goal in overtime.  The Penguins had their moments as well such as coming back from a two-goal deficit in the second period and not letting the Rangers take back the lead in the third.  Their one big fault was giving up the goal in overtime.  Say all you want about the lackluster first period; those happen, even when it’s “playoff hockey” and you expect every shift to be played at a pedal-to-the-medal pace.  Everyone expected the the Rangers to look tired from their back-to-back games to close out the Flyers series.  That did not happen.  Instead, the Rangers seemingly carried their momentum into this series.

Despite the loss, their are some good takeaways from game one of this series.  The Penguins registered 36 shots on net to the Rangers’ 27.  They also had an even strength Corsi of 54.5%.  Their penalty kill, which was atrocious against the Columbus Blue Jackets, did not allow a goal in four chances.  The Penguins had 10 different players finish with an even or positive Corsi.  It was not all the usual suspects like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin; guys like Marcel Goc, Brandon Sutter, and Robert Bortuzzo were also positive possession players too.

The key to this series, however, will be Sidney Crosby.  If he is not going to score goals then he needs to continue to possess the puck and drive play.  Right now he has an even strength Corsi of 58.9% while playing against the opponent’s weakest competition.

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Sidney Crosby has gone goal-less in his last 12 games going back to last season’s Ottawa series.  In these playoffs, he has seven assists in six games.  Assuming he does not have an injury that is affecting his shot, the goals will come for Crosby.  If he continues to possess the puck and setup his teammates then the Penguins may get through another series without Crosby scoring goals, but it is not the preferred method of winning playoff hockey games.