Will experience be a factor in Rangers series against the Penguins?

The New York Rangers will face a Pittsburgh Penguins team that has made the playoffs every year since 2006. For a Blueshirts team with little playoff experience, they don’t see it as a big deal.

“I know they have great players. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are a different animal,” head coach Gerard Gallant said on Monday.”But if you’re going to worry about that then we’re not going to play our game.” 

When the New York Rangers take to the Madison Square Garden ice on Tuesday night it will be a new, thrilling experience for most of the players on this young team. The same can not be said for the Pittsburgh Penguins who have won three Stanley Cups in the past 16 years.

Will playoff experience be a factor?

Playoff experience is something all teams talk about. The value of previous games in the postseason varies depending on who you ask.

Andrew Copp, recently acquired by GM Chris Drury at the trade deadline doesn’t believe experience is as important as some make it out to be.

“I don’t think experience is all that it gets chalked up to be,” said Copp, who saw playoff action with the Winnipeg Jets. “They’re just three really good players and their team is very good– I think our team is very good, too. I think we’re ready for this challenge. It’s definitely going to be a great series and we’re looking forward to it.”

The 27 year-old has appeared in the postseason four times as a member of the Winnipeg Jets playing in 34 playoff games.

Of course, if you ask Penguins coach Mike Sullivan what he thinks it’s a whole different tune.

“There isn’t a more accomplished core group of players in the game than this core group that’s here right now,” Sullivan said via DK Pittsburgh. “These guys are battle-tested. They’ve been through a lot. They’ve had a lot of success, but they’ve also had their disappointments. The experience that you gain through those can only help you in the challenges you have moving forward.”

Igor Shesterkin will be fine for the New York Rangers

new york rangers
Apr 7, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When talking about playoff experience, Henrik Lundqvist knows a thing or two about it. Having made the playoffs 12 out of his 15 years, he’s someone an expert on the topic. He is the New York Rangers leader in playoff games (130), playoff wins (61), and playoff shutouts (10).

Since this will be Igor Shesterkin’s first official NHL playoffs there’s been a lot of talk surrounding him. Deservedly so after his likely Vezina winning regular season, to which he says is already forgotten with the postseason beginning.

Lundqvist, during a Monday Q&A hosted by John Giannone of MSG Networks along with Steve Valiquette talked about playoff experience and how maybe not having any will be an advantage.

“We talk so much about experience but sometimes it’s easier to go in fresh,” Lundqvist explained. “You see a lot of young goalies have success early on in the playoffs because they don’t feel as much pressure. They don’t overthink it and they don’t try to figure out everything. With experience sometimes you think you have all the answers but you don’t. I believe in Igor and he’s going to do fine.”

Whatever side your on, the game still needs to be played. This game is about what have you done today, not what did you do yesterday or last season. Tuesday night at the Garden, the fans hope that inexperience will rule the day in Rangerstown.

For more on the Q&A with Lundqvist click here.

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