New York Islanders
7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Penguins came out and sent a message to the Islanders on Wednesday night that they weren't going to come out and take for granted that they were the number one seed and weren't going to look past the eight seed. Granted this was only one game but we have seen this Penguins team in the past come out flat and give away games that they should win.
Today it will hopefully be no different. The big news is that Sidney Crosby is coming back after missing more than a month due to a broken golf. While I don't think Crosby is going to be in top form it is nice to see he was able to come back for the first series to take a few games to get his legs under him. The last time he came back from a long layoff he was on fire so I wouldn't be surprised if he found the back of the net four times. He is the best player in the world and while he might be rusty today he will still probably be the best player on the ice.
Other than that it looks like the Penguins are going to be without Brooks Orpik and James Neal. Neal has a lower body injury which is almost certainly his ankle after getting hurt in the opening minutes of the second period in game one. Not really sure how bad it is but reports yeterday were that he didn't have a cast or walking boot on as he was walking around the CONSOL Energy Center ice so that is a pretty big plus. Orpik hasn't played for about the last five games and while I think he is close to coming back I don't think the Penguins want to rush him and risk losing him for much longer. In the regular season you might get some more information from Dan Bylsma but in the playoffs you are lucky if you even get a word about injuries.
Beau Bennett is going to stay in the lineup and play in the spot that James Neal had on the second line. He had a really nice first playoff game with a goal and some really good two way hockey so I don't think this will be a problem. Bennett played on this line during the regular season for some time and while the playoffs are a whole different animal I think I would rather have him on the second line rather than Tyler Kennedy.
The Islanders are going to put up a much better fight than the first game. They looked completely overwhelmed and it showed as they were just beat down in almost every facet. John Tavares was held without a shot for the first time this season in a game and he was punished all over the ice by the Penguins defense. I assume the Penguins will try to continue that and if you shut down Tavares it is going to be extremly difficult for the Islanders to get much mounted.
The atmosphere was unreal in CONSOL on Wednesday night and it should be just as amped tonight even if it is just for the fact that Crosby is back. I am a pretty big believer that a team really isn't out of a series until they lose a home game but if the Penguins win tonight they could essentially end the series with one win in New York next week.
Pittsburgh(1-0 in playoffs) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Beau Bennett - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke
Tanner Glass - Jussi Jokinen - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Deryk Engelland
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
Mark Eaton - Kris Letang
NY Islanders (0-1 in playoffs) (via Islanders website)
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Casey Cizikas
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Lubomir Visnovsky - Thomas Hickey
Mark Streit - Brian Strait
The Series (Penguins lead 1-0)
May 1, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, NY Islanders 0