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Penguins enter off loss, but have Rangers number

Wednesday, 04.03.2013 / 8:50 AM / Inside the Numbers

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Penguins enter off loss, but have Rangers number
The Pens saw their win streak end Tuesday two shy of the NHL record, but they enter Wednesday's game having won seven in a row against the Rangers.

There won't be any hockey history made at Madison Square Garden. That doesn't mean there isn't plenty at stake in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Had the Penguins beaten the Buffalo Sabres at home on Tuesday night, they'd be coming to New York looking for their record-tying 17th consecutive victory. Instead, they'll try to start a new streak against an Atlantic Division rival that's desperately scrambling for points just to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and starts the day in ninth place, two points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders.

Here's a statistical look at a meeting between two teams that genuinely don't like each other:

Reversal of form: Once upon a time, the Rangers owned the Penguins -- in the first five years after Pittsburgh joined the NHL in 1967, New York went 20-3-5. But the pendulum has swung the other way in recent years. The Penguins have won the past seven regular-season meetings between the teams and 17 of the past 24. Pittsburgh has totally dominated this season, winning all three games, each by three goals, and shutting out the Rangers in the two most recent meetings.

Playoff payback: The Rangers and Penguins could find themselves meeting again in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- and if history is any indicator, that would be bad news for New York. The teams have played four postseason series -- in 1989, '92, '96 and 2008. Not only have the Penguins won all four series, they haven't needed more than six games to win any of them. They are 9-2 at home and 7-2 at Madison Square Garden.

Won't miss Sid: One Penguin the Rangers won't have to worry about stopping is Sidney Crosby -- and they're probably not unhappy that No. 87 won't be in the lineup after suffering a broken jaw on Saturday. Though the Rangers have limited Crosby to a pair of assists this season, he has 20 goals and 51 points in 37 games against them since entering the NHL in 2005. The 51 points are more than he's had against any team except the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.

Hammering Hank: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has had his ups and downs against the Penguins, especially this season. He's been in goal for all three losses, allowed 12 goals in those games and posted a save percentage of only .865 -- for the season, he has a 2.19 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. In his career, Lundqvist is 22-18-5 against Pittsburgh with a 2.49 GAA and two shutouts.

A first for Jarome: One of the few highlights for the Penguins in the loss to the Sabres was the 526th career goal by Jarome Iginla -- his first in any uniform except that of the Calgary Flames. Iginla doesn't have much history against the Rangers, but he's done well in his 18 career games against them, scoring 12 goals and adding eight assists for 20 points. That's his highest output against any non-Canadian team in the Eastern Conference.

Quote of the Day

Not only is it a great idea, but if you don't [start using analytics] you're going to fall behind. You have to be on the cutting edge. It was [Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager] Darcy Regier who said, 'If you didn't invent it, you have to be the second- or third-best copier, because if you're fourth or fifth you've got no chance.'

— Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock on his interest in advanced statistical analysis