Saturday, March 30, 2013

Penguins Game 36 Preview - vs. New York Islanders

New York Islanders

1:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Last Penguins Game:
March 28, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Winnipeg 0 [Recap]

The Penguins finally busted out the offense the other night and put up four goals with pretty much no effort against the Jets and they will look to continue their winning streak to 15 (!) games as they play yet another game at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins opened up the year with unlimited road games and now is when they are all starting to come back to them and boy has it been fun to play at home all of these games with the streaks and with the new players and the division pretty much wrapped up.

Word is that Jarome Iginla had all of his work visa things taken care of but he wasn't expected to arrive until today so I would be pretty shocked if he was on the ice. Most likely he will be on the ice with them on Tuesday when he can get a practice in and at least meet his teammates before they go on the ice together. Jarome Iginla will be in the lineup. Whoa.

In other Penguins news they will be missing Paul Martin to an "upper body" injury. No real idea what is wrong with him but he did finish the game on Thursday so I am not sure how bad it would be. There was an unconfirmed rumor/speculation that it might have been a concussion but to be honest I have not sure any specifics on what it was. On the better side of thing Marc-Andre Fleury seems to be OK which is a huge lift. While Tomas Vokoun has played exceptionally well I would not want MAF to be hurt for any amount of time.

Thankfully the Penguins still have the depth at defense. While Martin is just one guy out he represents a huge chunk of why the Penguins have been able to do what they do so far this season defensively. I know having eight or nine NHL defensemen on the roster is a ton but when you have an injury and you don't have to worry about throwing some life long AHL guy in the lineup then that is a great feeling.

It seems like the Penguins and Islanders have played a million times already this season and the Isles are one of the teams that the Penguins play five time and this will be the fifth and final time they will play. It will be the third time in the month that they will play, which is a lot even in a short season.

I think I talked about this a few days ago when these teams played last but John Taveres is about as good as it gets and I don't think anyone notices him for the simple fact that he plays for the Islanders. That sounds pretty bad to say but I think that is the same way that baseball people had no idea who Andrew McCutchen was before last season and that is just kind of how it works.

Taveres has 21 goals on the season and 36 points and it is really being undermined by the Islanders still sitting on the outside looking in on the playoff race. He really has been outstanding and without Martin that is going to put a little more pressure on the backend to check him and keep him under wraps. Outside of Taveres you have Matt Moulson who has 35 points and 11 goals while Michael Grabner also has 11 goals on the season. Moulson and Taveres team up with Brad Boyes as one of the most productive lines in the league with 14 even strength goals which is the 12th most productive line in the league.

A win for the Penguins over the Islanders would lead to a perfect month for the Penguins with only one of those wins coming via the shootout. I don't care how you slice it that would be just an unreal accomplishment. The Penguins are still fighting with the Bruins and Canadiens for first in the Eastern Conference and they are still chasing Chicago (they lead Chicago by one point but the Hawks have two games in hand so I consider them still chasing Chicago) for the Presidents Trophy so this game is still pretty big in the larger picture. It's been a hell of a ride so far so lets keep it going.


Probables:

Pittsburgh (27-8-0) (via Daily Faceoff)

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Jarome Iginla - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Tanner Glass - Craig Adams - Tyler Kennedy

Defense (This is really up in the air. I just subbed in Engelland for Martin)
Brooks Orpik - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Deryk Engellend
Brandon Murray - Mark Eaton

Goaltender
Tomas Vokoun


NY Islanders (16-15-3) (via Penguins website)

Forwards
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald

Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Casey Cizikas


Defense
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky
Mark Streit - Radek Martinek

Goaltender
Evgeni Nabokov


The Season Series (Penguins Lead 3-1-0)

March 22, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, NY Islanders 2

March 10. 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, NY Islanders 1 February 5, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, NY Islanders 2 January 29, 2013 - NY Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 1  The Stats:

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