Penguins and Rangers Heading in Different Directions as Rematches Loom

November 11th, 2014 by Carol Schram Leave a reply »

When the Pittsburgh Penguins meet the New York Rangers for the first time this season at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford and coach Mike Johnston might want to pass along a thank you card to their opponents.

If the Rangers hadn't mounted their monster comeback to knock off the Penguins in the second round of last spring's NHL playoffs, incumbents Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma would probably have kept their jobs, while Rutherford and Johnston would be toiling elsewhere.

Instead, the two are an early-season NHL success story. Player personnel tweaks by Rutherford and a stronger puck-possession-based style instituted by Johnston have helped the Penguins become one of the top teams in the league as they prepare to take on New York twice this week.

The Rangers got the upper hand in the playoffs last spring, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit against Pittsburgh to win their series in seven games and become Eastern Conference champions. But it's the Penguins who are riding high this year, while a playoff hangover has engulfed Madison Square Garden.

Pittsburgh comes into Tuesday ...

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