New York Islanders
7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Last Penguins Game:
October 21, 2013 - Colorado 1, Pittsburgh 0 [Recap]
The Penguins are coming of "one of those" games where they were probably the better team on the ice but lost. They were done in by a hot goaltender and while Marc-Andre Fleury only saw like six shots one got by him and that was the game. As I said in the recap (that you can read above) games like that happen and that you don't typically lose games like that on a frequent basis but it is what it is and the Penguins can learn from it.
Tonight the Penguins get to match up against the team that nearly knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round in the lockout shortened season. The Islanders are a team that gives the Penguins fits with their run and gun style. While the Penguins aren't an overly slow team they certainly don't have the amount of horses to keep up with the Islanders for entire stretches of games so this will be a nice test for them tonight.
John Tavares is one of the best young scorers in the league and while it seems like he has only had a cup of coffee in the NHL he hasn't and has been getting better every season. Along with Tavares guys like Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, and Michael Grabner give the Penguins a hell of a time when they meet and it will be interesting to see how the revamped defensive core works.
Things are getting better for the Penguins as Kris Letang is going to be back in the lineup and an even better new bit was made official yesterday when the Penguins said they were going to keep Olli Maatta up instead of sending him back down. Maatta has been really good in the first nine games for the Penguins and while that doesn't mean he is going to be good for the whole season it is good to see the Penguins give him some big time responsibility as he will most certainly be in the lineup. Couple that with strong play from Rob Scuderi, Brooks Orpik, and Paul Martin and things are starting to come together a lot nicer on the back end than I thought it would before the season started.
Jeff Zatkoff is getting his second start in the net. I imagine that Dan Bylsma wants Marc-Andre Fleury to go against the better Maple Leafs team tomorrow night but this will be a big game for Zatkoff. He wasn't very good in his first start of the season against Tampa Bay and looked really out of place for stretches. It didn't help his defense didn't give a great effort in front of him but at the same time he could have put a better foot forward. I don't think that one or two games is enough to determine if he can be the primary backup so it will be fun and interesting to watch him over the next handful of starts to see how he handles it.
Penguins (7-2-0) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - Chuck Kobasew
Tanner Glass - Brandon Sutter - Jason Megna
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Deryk Engelland
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen
Islanders (3-3-3) (via Islanders website)
Matt Moulson – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Frans Nielsen – Josh Bailey
Brock Nelson – Peter Regin – Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey - Matt Carkner
Brian Strait - Matt Donovan