New York Islanders
7:00 p.m., Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
The Penguins will need a bounce back after they were beat down on Tuesday night against the Islanders. It was only the ninth time the Penguins have lost on home ice in regulation this season and the score of 5-3 was closer than the game really was. Marc Andre Fleury played one of his worst games of the season and the defense was nowhere to be found for much of the night.
MAF will get his chance to bounce back as he is back in net tonight. Interesting choice to have MAF in net tonight as the Penguins play tomorrow in Buffalo against a red hot Sabres team before they come back to Pittsburgh to play against the Flyers in a huge match up on Sunday night. You wouldn't think that the Penguins would throw Fleury out there for all three games so I can only assume that Johnson gets the start tomorrow night, but who knows.
While the Penguins now trail the Rangers by five points for the top spot and have a game in hand I really think this is probably over for them getting the top spot. Sure they still have a game against each other but I would assume that the Penguins would need to win out to have that shot and with games left against the Sabres, Bruins as well as a pair of games against the Flyers that would be a lot to expect. You also have to figure the Penguins are going to play Johnson in one of these games this weekend and if the 'Guins don't tighten up the defense it could get ugly.
Evidently at practice yesterday Dan Bylsma laid into the team for not playing sound defensive hockey. His voice was loud enough for anyone in attendance to hear and work is that some of the words he used would not be repeatable at work. Maybe it is the wake up call the team needs because the defensive responsibility has been non-existent over the past week or so. Brooks Orpik and a few others even acknowledged that the team has been focusing too much on the offensive talent they have and have lacked in their defensive game. Hopefully this is fixed up. Soon.
The season series (Pittsburgh leads 4-1):
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
March 27, 2012 - New York 5, Pittsburgh 3
The Penguins probables (via Empty Netters):
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Steve Sullivan - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Richard Park - Craig Adams - Arron Asham
Brooks Orpik - Zbynek Michalek
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland
Brian Strait - Paul Martin
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 - Nino Niederreiter
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Jay Pandolfo
Mark Streit - Dylan Reese
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Milan Jurcina - Steve Staios