Gameday Conference Quarterfinals #5: v. New York Islanders

penguinsvsisles

 

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS v. New York Islanders

Consol Energy Center, 7:00 PM, Root Sports, NBC Sports, TSN, 105.9 the X

Really don’t know what else to say, after each game we (and countless contemporaries) have said that the previous game’s events should and WOULD serve as a catalyst for this team. After game one this looked like an easy series, maybe the Pens would fall in one game but they would get out in good shape. After the surprising loss in Game 2 we expected a strong rebound for Game 3. After the Pens were lucky to escape with a win in Game 3 you felt like they were finally going to wake up. After Game 4 we have no more words left. They’re either going to do what they have to to move onto another day, another series, or they won’t. We have absolutely no clue which it is.

It looks, though, like the Pens won’t go down without a fight. Obviously, we know that Vokoun will take his place between the pipes, but according to Sam Kasan, it looks like the Pens are making a number of other fundamental roster changes. The top three forward lines will remain the same, but the fourth line will be radically different:

Craig Adams-Joe Vitale-Tyler Kennedy

The Pens forecheck has been so unconscious this is the only decision they could make. The Pens need some energy, not because that is somehow going to slow down the Isles transition game, but mostly because they need to keep the puck in the Islanders end of the rink for longer stretches of time. Tanner Glass and Jussi Jokinen were the two demoted to the “5th line” in the morning skate.

It looks like the Pens will be making one defensive change too: Mark Eaton is out and Simon Despres is in. Eaton never had much for wheels to begin with but he has looked occasionally awful as a result of the Islanders’ impressive breakout speed. Despres is the best skating defensemen not currently in the Pens lineup, and it seems like the Pens are making a smart move to pair him with Kris Letang, when they played together earlier in the regular season they each seemed to bring out the best in each other.

You may look at our opening remarks and think that we’re down on the Pens. Not true. This has become a war, and as any truly just war, the outcome is uncertain. We have our hopes and our expectations, we just don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re too disillusioned after the last 10 playoff games to make a bold exclamation of the Penguins’ impending dominance. They have 3 games left, if they win 2 of them, they’ll have earned the right to play in the next round. If they don’t then they haven’t.

The road to one starts tonight. Go Pens.

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