New York Islanders
7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Some of the most fun regular season games to watch, in any sport, is the week or so leading up to the playoffs. If you are lucky enough to be a fan of a team that is in the hunt for a playoff spot or a fan of a team that is fighting for said playoff positioning then this is the real stretch run (and let's be honest when your league takes half of the teams to the playoffs you can pretty much assure you are one of these people). While the Penguins wrapped up a playoff spot last week they are still playing for a lot. They are three points back of the Rangers who have played one more game than the Pens and the Penguins are still in the hunt for the top team in the league. Furthermore tonight the Penguins can clinch no worse than the fifth seed with a win. The Islanders are not really playing for anything.
The Penguins will play a home-and-home with the Islanders starting tonight and currently the Penguins have won all four match ups with the Islanders this year. While you look at these games and think they should be victories I would remind you that it is very difficult to sweep a team in the NHL when they play in your division. That is six games and it doesn't happen all that often so these are no gimmes.
While the Islanders are struggling they still have a few players that can make some plays. John Tavares is also a threat with the puck and P.A. Parenteau has been really strong this season as he has factored in on 36% of the Islanders goals (forget who tweeted that out). Evgeni Nabokov resigned with the Islanders a few weeks ago and has played some pretty good hockey in net. Without him the Islanders would be much worse than they already are.
A few Penguins notes today we learned that Ben Lovejoy is going to miss the next 3-4 weeks as he will need to undergo some knee surgery. You would have to think this pretty much ends his year. Also found out that Kris Letang didn't take part in the morning skate but luckily it is being listed as a lower body injury and NOT a head injury. You will remember that Letang was sort of ran into the boards in the New Jersey game and while he did finish the contest it seems that there might be something minor wrong. Ray Shero said that it wasn't serious and Disco said that he was just day-to-day so I won't worry too much.
The season series (Penguins lead 4-0):
October 25, 2011 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 0
October 27, 2011 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 2 (SO)
November 21, 2011 - Pittsburgh 5, New York 0
December 10, 2012 - Pittsburgh 6, New York 3
The Penguins probables (via Empty Netters):
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Steve Sullivan
Pascal Dupuis - Sidney Crosby - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Tangradi - Craig Adams - Arron Asham
Zbynek Michalek - Brooks Orpik
Brian Strait - Paul Martin
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
Marc Andre Fleury
The Islanders probables (via Empty Netters):
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - P.A. Parenteau
Joshua Bailey - Frans Neilsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - David Ullstrom
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Jay Pandolfo
Mark Streit - Dylan Reese
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Milan Jurcina - Steve Staios