Rangers 2022-23 Opponent Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to have another good season, which would result in an astounding 17th consecutive Stanley Cup playoff berth for the club. They have not won a postseason series since 2018 and will be looking to make a deep playoff run with their experienced core and head coach Mike Sullivan. The New York Rangers defeated them last year during the postseason after trailing 3-1 in the first-round series, with the younger Rangers squad looking to win their first championship since 1994. Let’s look at the Penguins’ roster and how the two franchises match up.

Penguins’ 2021-22 Record: 46-25-11 (103 points, lost to New York Rangers 4-3 in the first round of 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs)

Season Series: 1-3

Penguins Forwards

The duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will return yet again for the Penguins this year, as Malkin re-signed with the club for four years and will earn $6.1 million per season. He missed half of last year recovering from knee surgery but contributed 20 goals and 22 assists in 41 games. Rickard Rakell, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at last season’s trade deadline, re-signed with the Penguins over the offseason for six years at $5 million per season.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kasperi Kapanen has struggled during his two seasons with the Penguins, and Jason Zucker has dealt with injuries during his time with the franchise. Evan Rodrigues signed with the Colorado Avalanche during the offseason after setting a career-high with 19 goals and 24 assists, and his former team will miss his presence in their bottom six. Jake Guentzel had his best statistical season last year and played well during the postseason after underachieving the previous three years during the playoffs.

Penguins Defense

The Penguins re-signed defenseman Kris Letang to a six-year contract extension, keeping the core of him, Malkin, and Crosby with the organization for the next several seasons. General manager (GM) Ron Hextall made some trades during the offseason that will shake up the blue line as the new year begins. John Marino will remain in the Metropolitan Division, as the New Jersey Devils acquired him in exchange for youngster Ty Smith and a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Penguins traded Mike Matheson and a fourth-round pick in next year’s draft to the Montreal Canadiens for veteran defenseman Jeff Petry and 23-year-old forward Ryan Poehling. Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson are entering another year with the organization.

Penguins Goaltenders

After struggling during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Tristan Jarry played well during the regular season last year but dealt with an injury that limited him to one game during the first-round series against the Rangers. Casey DeSmith will be the backup netminder once again, even though he suffered an injury that limited him to one game in the playoffs last season. Louis Domingue played the most for them in goal during the postseason and is now with the Rangers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Veteran goalie Dustin Tokarski and youngsters Filip Lindberg and Taylor Gauthier will compete for playing time with the Penguins’ AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

Schedule

  • Dec. 20 – vs. Rangers
  • Mar. 12 – vs. Rangers
  • Mar. 16 – @ Rangers
  • Mar. 18 – @ Rangers

How the Rangers Match Up With the Penguins

The Rangers and the Penguins may match up in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as both organizations are expected to be competitive again in the Metropolitan Division. Both franchises are capable of finishing near the top of the division and going on substantial runs during the postseason. Crosby, Malkin, and Letang are all at the point in their respective careers where they need to take advantage of the opportunity of qualifying for the playoffs and win another championship while they are still playing at a high level, given that the trio has been in the same organization since 2007-08.

Related: Penguins Should Re-sign Malkin & Letang

Gerard Gallant took the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final during their inaugural season in the NHL, while Sullivan coached his squad to back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. The first-round series last year proved that the teams are evenly-matched and could engage in another close series once again if they face one another during the playoffs.

Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, and Artemi Panarin represent the Rangers’ core while Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel, and Bryan Rust make up the Penguins’ top players. The list of five quality players proves why both franchises are evenly matched and should engage in some entertaining contests during the regular season especially if both rosters are relatively healthy when they play one another. If they face each other again during the playoffs this season, look for an entertaining series that may need seven games again to decide the winner.


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