At the beginning of every playoff series across the NHL, there is a discussion about playoff experience between the two teams. But it seemed as if that topic flew under the radar with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers in the opening round of the 2022 NHL Postseason.
Looking into the details shows that despite the regular season success the Rangers and goalie Igor Shesterkin had, they are extremely inexperienced in the postseason.
In fairness, most teams are going to lack in postseason experience behind the Penguins, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and the franchise around them are in the midst of their 16th consecutive appearance.
16 years is the longest active streak in North American sports and the Pens’ core has had staggering numbers.
Crosby has played in 177 postseason games with 197 points, four shy of fifth all-time. Malkin isn’t that far behind playing 173 career playoff games with 176 points.
After three games, the Penguins hold a 2-1 series lead, but if they want to maintain that upper hand, they have to use that playoff experience to their advantage.
If you had to guess who you thought was the current Rangers player with the most career postseason appearances, would you say Chris Kreider or Artemi Panarin?
While both are good guesses, they’re not the correct answer.
The Rangers current leader in playoff games goes to Ryan Braun with 102.
Braun is a 34-year-old defenseman that was scratched for Game 1 and only got into Games 2 and 3 due to injuries.
The player with the second most postseason games? Ryan Reaves with 87.
Reaves rarely reaches over 10 minutes of ice-time in a game and didn’t even reach 7 in Game 3; The Rangers don’t want him on the ice.
Kreider and Panarin have played in 83 and 33, respectively.
The Ranger flew into the playoffs on the back of Shesterkin, the probable Vezina Trophy winner; Game 1 of the series was his second-ever postseason appearance.
With this being Shesterkin’s first ever series as a starting goalie, the Penguins and their fans need to do everything they can to show what playoff experience looks like.
The fans did their part, getting on Shesterkin’s case early in his first ever playoff game in front of a visiting crowd.
He was pulled after giving up four goals in the first period.
The Penguins need to thrive off of that momentum from the crowd in Game 4 and utilize their vastly superior playoff knowledge.
They may not have done it too much recently, but quite a few Penguins players know what it takes to win, and now is the time to do it.
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