Daily Matchup

March 27 – Day 164 – The Pens have risen

I picked the Lightning to beat the Panthers in yesterday’s Game of the Day.  Florida‘s five goals proved me wrong.

Tampa Bay took the initial lead only 5:52 after play on a Tyler Johnson power play wrister, assisted by Nikita Nesterov and Ondrej Palat (his 20th helper of the season).  7:44 later, Vincent Trocheck leveled the score after an assist from Jussi Jokinen, his 41st helper of the season.  Third Star of the Game Jaromir Jagr gave the Panthers a lead they would not yield on the power play with 1:58 remaining in the period, assisted by Aleksander Barkov and Second Star Jonathan Huberdeau (his 36th helper of the season).  The 2-1 score held into the intermission.

Only one goal was scored in the second frame, and it belongs to Florida.  With 4:07 remaining in the period, Jiri Hudler gave the Panthers their third goal, the game-winner, assisted by Alex Petrovic and Nick Bjugstad (his 17th helper of the season).

The score became 4-1 4:02 after resuming play from the second intermission after a Huberdeau wrister, assisted by Barkov and Jagr (his 33rd helper of the season).  Tampa finally scored their second goal with 3:12 remaining in regulation when Steven Stamkos connected on a power play wrister for his 36th tally of the season, assisted by Brian Boyle and Nesterov.  Jokinen closed the scoring for the evening with 25 seconds remaining, a shorthanded wrister on an empty net for his 17th goal of the season.

First Star Roberto Luongo earns the win after saving 33 of 35 shots faced (94.3%), while Andrei Vasilevskiy takes the loss, saving 22 of 26 shots faced (84.6%).

Florida‘s win sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 74-43-17, favoring the home sides by 33 points over the roadies.

After such a busy Saturday, we need a little break, but the Easter Bunny still brought along three games for our viewing pleasure.  The action starts at 5 p.m. eastern when New Jersey visits Carolina, followed by Pittsburgh at the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. eastern (NBCSN/TVAS).  Finally, Chicago visits Vancouver at 8 p.m. eastern (SN) to round the evening out.

Two of today’s games are divisional rivalries (New Jersey at Carolina and Pittsburgh at New York), and Pittsburgh at New York is the only game between playoff qualifiers.

In addition to the reasons listed above, we’ll head to Madison Square Garden as it is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoNew York Rangers Logo






This will be Pittsburgh‘s 15th appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 6-7-1 record, with their most recent being March 19’s 4-1 win in Philadelphia.  New York has been featured 20 times before tonight’s game, and they own a 11-7-2 record in such instances.  Their last time featured, they beat the visiting Bruins 5-2 on Wednesday.

The 41-25-8 Pittsburgh Penguins currently occupy third in the Metropolitan Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played the fifth best defense in the league, paired with the 11th best offense.

Led by Ian Cole’s 106 blocks, the Penguins have allowed 2175 shots to reach 32-17-6 Marc-Andre Fleury and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.1% for 182 goals against, the fifth fewest in the league.  That success has carried into the penalty kill, where the Pens have successfully defended 83.77% of opposing power plays for only 37 extra man goals against, the seventh best rate in the league.  Further improving on that rate, they’ve also scored six shorthanded goals (led by Eric Fehr’s three shorties), one more than the league average.

Led by Phil Kessel’s 236 shots, Pittsburgh has fired the puck a whopping 2408 times, with 8.3% finding the back of the net for 204 goals (led by Sidney Crosby’s 31 tallies), the 11th most in the NHL.  The biggest hole for the Pens continues to be their power play, as their 17.45% success rate, good for 41 power play goals (led by the injured Evgeni Malkin’s 11 extra man tallies), the 12th worst in the league.

Pittsburgh‘s last game was yesterday’s 7-2 victory in Detroit.  With another road win tonight, Pittsburgh would pull within at least three points of second place in the Metropolitan Division.

The 43-24-8 New York Rangers currently rank second best in both the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.   To get this far, they’ve played the sixth best offense, paired with the 14th best defense.  A more in-depth analysis of the Blueshirts‘ game can be found within Wednesday’s article.

The Blueshirts have won their last two games, with their most recent victory being Wednesday over the Bruins.  Should the Rangers hold home ice for the win, they will improve their lead over Pittsburgh to six points for second in the division.

Pittsburgh currently leads the season series 2-1-0, but this final game could level the series at .500.  These squads met last season in the first round of the playoffs, where the Rangers won the series 4-1.

Some players to keep an eye in tonight’s game include New York‘s Henrik Lundqvist (33 wins [tied for fifth most in the league], .922 save percentage [tied for seventh best in the league] and four shutouts [tied for seventh most in the league]) and Ryan McDonagh (+28 [fourth most in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (77 points [third most in the league], 46 assists [tied for seventh most in the league] and 31 goals [tied for ninth most in the league]), Fleury (five shutouts [tied for third most in the league] and 33 wins [tied for fifth most in the league]), Chris Kunitz (+31 [leads the league]) and Olli Maatta (+27 [tied for fifth best in the league]).

Although New York enters tonight’s home game riding a winning streak, I’m still leaning towards the Penguins, who have been riding a tremendous surge in the past couple months.

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