New York Islanders
7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Not where everyone thought the Penguins would be at this point of the series. While most thought this was going to be a sweep or a five game series and here we sit at a 2-2 tied series and everyone that talked in the wake of a game four loss that the Penguins were down 3-0 and they have no chance in in winning the hypothetical fourth game. Now those were just the fans and media talking that way because they were the ones that really set up those expectations but needless to say a lot of people are just waiting to jump off one of the many bridges that Pittsburgh has.
Dan Bylsma has made a couple of decently big moves in the wake of the game four loss. Granted these changes came in the game day skate but those are usually an indicator of what is going on. Both Tanner Glass and Jussi Jokinen are going to be out of the lineup and is going to be replaced with Joe Vitale and Tyler Kennedy. Most people are pretty OK with the Kennedy move but the Vitale/Jokinen move is pretty interesting. Jokinen has been pretty good since he came to Pittsburgh and I would probably have him in the lineup soon but this shouldn't be a big deal at all. This is a fourth line move and while Jokinen is a great faceoff guy Vitale is pretty good there too. Some fresh blood in the lineup might be a good thing but this isn't like Disco is changing up the top two lines or anything.
Simon Despres is also back in the lineup for Mark Eaton. All told Eaton has been really good since coming back to the team. He has been a calming influence and has been a rock. The Islanders are really just too fast for him. There aren't many teams that possess the speed that the Islanders do and Eaton has had a lot of problems with it. No idea what to expect from Despres. He has played a few game this series but really hasn't played a lot of minutes with Disco really shortening the bench. Will be interesting to see how many minutes he logs tonight and who he gets matched up against with partner Kris Letang.
Really the big news of the game is that Tomas Vokoun is going to be in the game in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. MAF had a pretty brutal game on Tuesday night and after a shaky second and third game that was enough for Disco to go with the backup for game four. I have been pretty vocal in saying that I disagree with this move but I can absolutely see why it iwas made. By no stretch of the imagineation is it MAF's fault that this series has looked the way it has but maybe this is the shock that the team needs. Over the past couple of seasons the Penguins didn't have a backup goaltender they could call on if MAF had a rough stretch and it cost them games, espeically last season against the Flyers. This year they have someone they can go to and they are going to play that card. I still think that pulling your franchise guy is a bad move but if he get the defense to play a little better hockey (needs to be a lot better) than so be it. No idea why this means going forward but all I can hope for is a good start from Vokoun and the Penguins earn a game five win.
Despite what people may say this is not a must win game. If the Penguins lose they can still win the series but I don't think that is a place they want to be at. A win is important tonight and hopefully they come out and play like they did in the regular season and in game one.
Pittsburgh (2-2 in playoffs) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
James Neal - Evgeni Malkin - Jarome Iginla
Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter -Matt Cooke
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Tyler Kennedy
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Douglas Murray - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Kris Letang
NY Islanders (2-2 in playoffs) (via Islanders website)
Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Matt Moulson - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin
David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald
Radek Martinek - Travis Hamonic
Brian Strait - Lubomir Visnovsky
Mark Streit - Matt Carkner
The Series (Tied 2-2)
May 7, 2013 - NY Islanders 6, Pittsburgh 4
May 5, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, NY Islanders 4 (OT) May 3, 2013 - NY Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 3 May 1, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, NY Islanders 0 The Stats: