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NHL on NBC: Rangers try to gain on Penguins in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Bruce Bennett

NBC continues its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center at 12:30 pm ET today. In addition to NBC, you can also watch the game online.

There has already been some hockey on NBC this season, but the Sunday docket really begins in earnest today as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers.

It should be an intriguing one to kick things off, too.

The Penguins and Rangers are vying for the Metropolitan Division crown along with the New York Islanders (currently on top) and the Washington Capitals. While Pittsburgh currently holds a four-point edge on New York, the Rangers have a game in hand, so the gap could narrow or widen depending upon how Sunday afternoon’s contest shakes out.

The Rangers aren’t just the hotter of the two teams, they’re flat-out one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

They’ve won 14 of their last 17 games while being strong against the Penguins (2-0-1 this season) and really cleaning up against the division in general (12-3-1 vs. Metro teams).

After a tough first month, Henrik Lundqvist has been the clearest driving force of this turnaround, as he’s resumed his annual Vezina-caliber work. The Rangers boast a nice array of offensive pieces, with Rick Nash’s strong season and Martin St. Louis’ steady production standing out. (Though Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan are key contributors in their own right.)

The Penguins haven’t been so strong against the Metro, going 6-7-3 in the division so far this season. They’ll bring an interesting look into this game, as Sidney Crosby hopes to continue building chemistry with David Perron. It’s interesting to note that Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are currently tied for the team lead with 50 points.

It all shapes up to be a test for two teams who hope to be key figures in their division and in the Eastern Conference in general.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins