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Berube: Penguins' turn to make adjustments

Former NHL coach breaks down how Pittsburgh must respond in Game 3

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

For additional insight into the Eastern Conference First Round series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.

Berube, 50, was the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant coach for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach on Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the Rangers in the first round in 2014.

PITTSBURGH -- A Stanley Cup Playoff series is won with adjustments. Analyze your game properly, adjust accordingly, and you have a better chance of moving on.

The New York Rangers gave themselves a better chance to move on from their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins by realizing the errors that led to a loss in Game 1 so they could play a smarter game in Game 2.

New York won 4-2 to even the best-of-7 series at 1-1.

Video: Lundqvist, offense shine as Rangers even series at 1

The key for the Rangers was getting through the neutral zone in order to maintain possession in the offensive zone. They struggled in Game 1 when the Penguins clogged up the area and took advantage of turnovers at their blue line to counter off the rush. The Rangers had to be smarter with the puck Saturday. They were.

"If you look, they shot it by people," former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube said. 

New York won the neutral-zone battle in Game 2 by getting the puck behind the Penguins defense. It gave way to an aggressive forechecking game. The Rangers had 57 hits in the game, including 25 on Pittsburgh's defensemen. They scored off of the forecheck.

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm2: Rangers net three in 2nd, take control

"They did a good job neutralizing Pittsburgh's attack," Berube said. "Pittsburgh likes to get the 'D' involved in the attack, [Trevor] Daley and [Kris] Letang and those guys, and the Rangers neutralized a lot of that. They controlled the game that way."

So now it's on the Penguins to adjust. Berube said Pittsburgh's key in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVA Sports, MSG, ROOT) will be to retake control of the neutral zone, the way it had it for most of Game 1.

"Just defend the neutral zone better to force more turnovers so the Rangers don't have the room to skate, get the puck in deep and do the things they want to do," Berube said. "If they can force some more turnovers in the neutral zone they'd be able to play a counter game. Pittsburgh is a good counter team."

Berube thought the Penguins got "a little lost" in their neutral zone defense in Game 2 and it led to poor spacing between their forwards and defensemen.

"The Rangers come up with speed and either dump it in or shoot it off the rush and create a forecheck, so the Penguins just need better overall reads," Berube said. "If they can't get there, they need people above the puck. You still have to play defense in this game as much as possible because if you can neutralize the other team you're going to give yourself opportunities by forcing turnovers."

The Rangers still have some adjustments to make of their own, such as staying out of the penalty box. 

It's clear now, especially with Evgeni Malkin back in Pittsburgh's lineup after missing Game 1, that the Penguins' power play is operating at a high level commensurate with the skill it has, from Sidney Crosby to Malkin to Phil Kessel to Patric Hornqvist and Letang at the point.

Pittsburgh is 3-for-10 on the power play in the series, including 2-for-5 with Malkin in Game 2. The Penguins have scored the three goals on 10 shots, which means they're shooting a remarkably high 30 percent.

"They're going to get opportunities on the power play with that much skill," Berube said. "You can defend all you want, there's just too much talent, so it's important that the Rangers play 5-on-5 as much as possible, but being as physical as they are, they are going to get penalties."

It's a line the Rangers are going to have to toe, and be on the right side of in order to win Game 3. 

"Little things like that make a difference in the games," Berube said, "especially in the playoffs, when it's so tight."

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