New York Islanders
7:30 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Well, finally we are going to get some games that actually mean something. For most of the season we knew that the Penguins were going to make the playoffs but it was still a grind to work up some excitement for games against the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers. While the Penguins are in a series now with a team that hasn't been good in some time it should be an unreal time tonight. Finally watching playoff hockey and one step closer to hopefully winning a series and putting the series loss to the Flyers behind them. Who care though, PLAYOFF HOCKEY!!!!
The bad news tonight is that Sidney Crosby is not going to be available as he will be a healthy scratch. Brooks Orpik will also be held out tonight and while he hasn't played his best hockey this year he still is a pretty important piece in the Penguins blueline. I really don't think that missing Crosby is as big of deal as some might make it out to be due to the fact that the Penguins brough in captains from two other team at the trade deadline and then are more than talented enough to win the game. That being said I hope he gets cleared to play soon so he can put some pucks in the back of the net.
The Islanders are coming into the playoffs after what seems like forever and it will be really interesting to see how they react to what will be nearly (maybe everyone) every players first chance at the playoffs. Despite what you may think the Islanders have a pretty solid team and while they limped into the playoffs to some extent they still have the top line talent with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. The Islanders are a really fast team up from and the Penguins found that out the hard way in the first meeting. The Penguins did fix it up and defeat the Islanders the next four times they met but this is an Islanders team that just isn't going to roll over because the Penguins are the to pteam in the East.
While the Islanders have some good talent they lack depth and they lack much in terms of defense. They are the eight seed for a reason and while I think there is a chance the Penguins are going to come in with a little too much confidence I think the fact that they have been knocked out early the last three years, especially the fashion they were knocked out last year, will have them hunry and wanted to put it to the Islanders early and often.
The big black eye last year was the complete and utter failure of both the penalty kill and defense. So far this season the defense has been worlds better and while the penalty kill has had its slumps they have held the Islanders to zero power play goals in the last four games of this season's series after giving up multiple goals on the power play.
I could break down things here all game. I should have had a series preview but the real world has me tied up right now. Who cares what I think though. PLAYOFF HOCKEY!!!!
Pittsburgh (36-12-0 overall, 0-0-0 playoffs) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Pascal Dupuis - Jussi Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Tanner Glass - Craig Adams - Beau Bennett
Mark Eaton - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Deryk Engelland
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
NY Islanders (24-17-7 overall, 0-0-0 playoffs) (via Islanders website)
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald
Eric Boulton - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Matt Carkner - Thomas Hickey
Mark Streit - Brian Strait
Season Series (Pittsburgh won 4-1)
April 30, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, NY Islanders 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