PITTSBURGH -- Both the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to ice the same lineups they used in finishing off their first-round opponents when their Eastern Conference semifinals begins here Friday night.
That means that Chris Kreider for the Rangers and Brooks Orpik for the Penguins will not suit up. Orpik has not skated since he was injured at some point in Game 4 of the Pens' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Kreider has missed the entire first round with a hand injury.
Unlike the Columbus series, when Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards used center Brandon Dubinsky against Sidney Crosby as much as possible, the Rangers are more likely to try a defensive matchup to attempt to neutralize the Pittsburgh captain. That means a lot of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. Certainly, that's what head coach Dan Bylsma and Crosby feel will be the case.
Although the series hasn't begun, the schedule is a hot topic of discussion. The Rangers played games Tuesday and Wednesday to close out the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round and then will play Friday, Sunday and Monday against the Penguins.
"I can't help but think it's going to be part of the storyline," Bylsma said. "We have to use that to our advantage."
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was nonplussed about the schedule, noting that he came from the Western Conference, where travel is far more arduous than it is in the East.
"Travel out here is pretty easy, so I’m not really overly concerned about three games in four nights with this traveling," Vigneault said.
Here's a look at the combinations that likely will start Game 1 for the Penguins:
And for the Rangers: