If you asked people back in the autumn months if we would see playoff action in the NHL, they probably told you no. But, here we are, playoff time. The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders kick off their quarterfinal series tonight with game one from Pittsburgh.
When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 7:00 pm/et (Root Sports, MSG Plus, NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Regular season records: Penguins (36-12-0, 72 pts.); Islanders (24-17-7, 55 pts.)
Regular season series: Penguins won 4-1
Last meeting: The Penguins and Islanders last faced off against each other on March 30. This was also the last time we saw Sidney Crosby in game action, having played a whole fifty seconds before getting hit in the face with a puck and breaking his jaw. Behind thirty-five saves from Tomas Vokoun, the Penguins shut out the Islanders, 2-0. Pittsburgh goals came from Matt Cooke and James Neal.
Keys to the game:
1. Special teams: During the regular season, both the Penguins and Islanders displayed excellent power plays. Pittsburgh had the second-best power play unit in the league, while New York ranked eleventh. In regards to penalty killing, neither team was really that efficient. The Islanders best the Penguins in killing penalties, but are only ranked twenty-first. The Penguins sat twenty-fifth.
2. Experience: As we all know, the playoffs are a completely different monster compared to the regular season. The Penguins have had a lot of playoff experience lately, making the Stanley Cup finals in 2008 and 2009. The Islanders haven’t been in the playoffs since 2007, when they lost to the Buffalo Sabres, four games to one, in the first round.
Penguins: C Sidney Crosby (jaw), D Brooks Orpik (lower body), C Joe Vitale (lower body)
-No Sidney Crosby.
-No Brooks Orpik.
-The big screen (Uncle Mario’s tv) is back in Pittsburgh during playoff games.
-First career playoff game for John Tavares and many of the Islanders.
-Evgeni Nabokov is 40-38-0 with a .913 save % and 2.29 goals against average in the playoffs during his career.
Penguins (via penguins.nhl.com)
14 Chris Kunitz (A)-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal
9 Pascal Dupuis-36 Jussi Jokinen-12 Jarome Iginla
10 Brenden Morrow-16 Brandon Sutter-24 Matt Cooke
15 Tanner Glass-27 Craig Adams-19 Beau Bennett
4 Mark Eaton-58 Kris Letang
7 Paul Martin-5 Deryk Engelland
2 Matt Niskanen-3 Douglas Murray
29 Marc-Andre Fleury (23-8-0, .916 Save %, 2.39 GAA)
Islanders (via dailyfaceoff.com)
26 Matt Moulson-91 John Tavares (A)-24 Brad Boyes
12 Josh Bailey-51 Frans Nielsen-21 Kyle Okposo (A)
40 Michael Grabner-10 Keith Aucoin-13 Colin McDonald
16 Marty Reasoner-53 Casey Cizikas-17 Matt Martin
2 Mark Streit (C)-37 Brian Strait
3 Travis Hamonic-47 Andrew MacDonald
14 Thomas Hickey-11 Lubomir Visnovsky
20 Evgeni Nabokov (23-11-7, .910 Save %, 2.50 GAA)