The first thing that jumps out when looking at the Rangers roster is, "Damn. They have a lot more good players than Columbus." Pierre McGuire's hyperbolic cheerleading for the plucky Columbus Blue Jackets aside, that wasn't a particularly good team. The BJs had one or two good players, a smattering of pretty decent players, and then a bunch of whatevers. Derek MacKenzie, Mark Letestu, Jack Skille, Artem Anisimov, Blake Comeau ... those guys are OK forwards to round out a lineup if your top lines have stars like Crosby and Malkin. If your top lines are anchored by Brandon Dubinsky and a good-but-still-too-young Ryan Johansen, then you're not a deep team. You're an average team.
The Rangers are not average. In Nash, St. Louis, Stepan, Richards, Pouliot, Zuccarello, Brassard, Hagelin, and Boyle, the Rangers have 9 good forwards. A 4th line of Dominic Moore, Derek Dorsett, and whoever else they dress is certainly no worse than a fourth line featuring Tanner Glass. Their defense is very good (4th in goals against during the regular season), and unlike Columbus which had one good defenseman (Jack Johnson), the Rangers actually have four good defensemen (McDonagh, Girardi, Staal, and Stralman), which means they're not going to be at a huge disadvantage to either Crosby or Malkin's line (assuming they split up), and can shelter any weaker defensemen by playing them against the Pens' relatively weak bottom 6. And while Lundqvist has never really impressed against the Pens, it doesn't mean he's not a good goalie. It would hardly be surprising if he stole a game (or several) and, unlike with Fleury, it would be very surprising if Lundqvist blew a game for the Rangers. They are also finally playing for a coach who they don't hate.
Oh, and don't underestimate this point: one of these two teams had the good sense to waive Taylor Pyatt; the other one picked him up.
|No love lost (or good plays made) when Taylor Pyatt is involved.|
|Someone was in someone's head.|