With the season winding down, each game has a little more importance tied to it and NBC’s Game of the Week on March 20th could turn out to be a huge one with playoff implications. At 12:30 p.m. ET on the 20th we’ll see the New York Rangers head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins.
The Rangers are in a fight for their playoff lives right now and without Marian Gaborik, the Rangers offense seems to be struggling of late. Henrik Lundqvist can only do so many things for the team, but scoring goals is unfortunately not one of them. The Rangers have to hope that other forwards like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Wojtek Wolski can step up. Gaborik may be available to return by the time the puck drops in this game, and if the Rangers slide continues, they’re going to need him sooner than later.
The Penguins, meanwhile, are hoping to retain home ice advantage and perhaps catch the slumping of late Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Atlantic Division. James Neal, Jordan Staal, and former Ranger Alex Kovalev are the guys that will carry the Penguins into the playoffs this year, especially with Sidney Crosby’s status coming back from a concussion still up in the air. These aren’t the stars you’re used to seeing out of Pittsburgh, but it will help show off goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury a bit more. Fleury’s had an outstanding season in helping the Penguins keep winning and not fall off with the injury losses of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Two teams in distinctly different positions each with their own sense of desperation for different reasons. Sounds like a recipe for a great late-season match-up to us.