Gameday Conference Quarterfinals #3: @ New York Islanders

penguinsvsisles

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ New York Islanders

Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, 12:00 PM, NBC, 105.9 the X

The Isles got their pushback Friday night. And you know what the most annoying part about it was? The media. The self-same media that decreed the Penguins paper champions in early April were the first to gloat over one loss, by a one goal margin, in a best of seven series.

There are many tirades I could make: that no one on the Pens roster named themselves champions at the trade deadline, that no team in the history of the NHL has gone undefeated for the whole playoffs, even in the uncapped years, so why should a team playing with a cap be any different, or that the consensus amongst all media types had “Pens in 5” which would in fact require the team to lose a game. But outside of what has already been said, it’s just not worth it. If you want to know why the Pens lost I point you back to this article. Justin Bourne was prophetic in his prediction of what would happen when Sid returned for the Pens. He (and Geno) were great, the other guys took their respective feet off the gas. Sid and Geno were accountable for all 3 Pens goals and literally more than half of the team’s shots (18/33). And that can’t happen again. And it won’t, now the Pens can pushback at will. And they will.

The Pens will enter a proverbial hornet’s nest this afternoon, but there is no cause for panic. The Islanders managed 10 home wins in 24 attempts this year (0-2 against the Pens), advantage Penguins (who also went 18-6 on the road this season). The Pens went a combined 8-1 in day games during the regular season (1-0 against the Islanders), doesn’t matter what the Islanders did, advantage Penguins. And when it comes down to skill, experience, and willpower, advantage Pittsburgh Penguins.

Yesterday Sam Kasan reported that Evgeni Malkin did not practice with the team but no status was given at the time or by Coach B in the post practice scrum. We suspect he is playing but a change in the lineup could be coming on the defemsive end: Deryk Engelland particularly stuck out as having a bad game Friday, he took two undisciplined penalties, one of which resulted in a goal, and failed to make the kinds of plays the Pens need from him.

With that said, no strong feelings as to who will get the call today. You have to feel that Despres sits above Bortz on the depth chart, but the Pens got thoroughly out muscled on Friday which might give the bruiser Bortz the edge.

If we had a say in the lines we would make a couple tweaks as follows:

Dupuis-Crosby-Iginla
Kunitz-Malkin-Bennett
Morrow-Sutter-Cooke
Glass-Jokinen-Adams

Letang-Despres
Martin-Eaton
Murray-Niskanen

Dupuis and Iginla clearly have some chemistry from playing the last couple regular season games and game one of this series together. That’s more than we can say between Malkin and Iginla. If Malkin should be unable to play, TK will have to be the next man up and Jussi would move back to that top 6 role.

Time to set the tempo. Go Pens.

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