New York Rangers Cannot Afford Slow Start Versus Pittsburgh Penguins

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

One would think that after the 6-0 beatdown, the Anaheim Ducks placed on the New York Rangers in October, the Rangers would be hungry for revenge in their rematch Monday night. It certainly didn’t seem that way in the first period, as careless turnovers by Brad Richards and Derick Brassard led to two early Anaheim goals.

The Rangers appeared disinterested and lazy. Granted, the Rangers put forth a much better effort for the remaining two periods, but eventually lost the game, 2-1. Now the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town, and they are a team that will truly make the Rangers pay for a slow start.

Avoiding nonchalant play is not the only key for the Rangers to avoid an embarrassing showing against the best team in the Eastern Conference. It is also imperative that the Rangers stay out of the penalty box. The Penguins’ power play is one of the most lethal in the NHL despite only ranking 10th. The Rangers’ penalty kill is currently 14th in the NHL, which is solid enough to shut down a man-advantage such as Pittsburgh’s. However, if the Rangers make mistakes and play carelessly, the Penguins will make them pay.

Sidney Crosby is at the top of his game right now, leading the NHL with 23 points. Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz are also capable of big games at any time. From the opening faceoff to the final buzzer, the Rangers need show grit and mettle against such a dangerous opponent, otherwise it’s going to a long night at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers nearly got away with a lifeless first period against Anaheim. They won’t get away with it again against Pittsburgh. Should the Rangers have any aspirations of catching the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division, they need to show up ready to play Wednesday night.

Matt Stillwell is a New York Rangers contributor for rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattNYR12 for all NYR news and notes! Also, “like” him on Facebook and connect with him on Google Plus!

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