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Insider Only All Eyes on Crosby: Pens – Isles Pre Game Audio, Quotes, Storylines & Tidbits

New York Islanders (5-9-3, 13pts) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (11-6-3, 25pts)

Time: 7:08 p.m. | Where: Consol Energy Center
TV: Root Sports (locally), VERSUS (HD), CBC (HD)

All Eyes on Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby returns to the lineup tonight in what will be an electric scene. It was a media circus this morning as over 250 media credentials have been issued in what is the most anticipated Penguin home game since Mario Lemieux came out of retirement on December 27, 2000.
Will it be a magical night for Crosby? Crosby has 62 points in 33 career games vs the New York Islanders, averaging 1.87 points per game against the Isles in his career. The Islanders in the past have been no match for Crosby, who has 8 goals and 27 points in his last 12 games vs New York.

Crosby anxious, not scared about getting hit

Crosby on Returning: “I’m pretty excited”. I’ve been working over the last couple months, but it’s been a while since I’ve played a game. I don’t really know what to expect. I try to give myself every chance to be ready the best I possibly can given the layoff here.”

On Being Anxious “You don’t always get this anxious for games. This is one that I’m definitely pretty anxious and excited for. Nothing matches the first one, but it’s similar.”
Confidence Level of getting Hit: “As far as my confidence level with getting hit, it’s all there. I feel confident going into those areas and getting contact.”

Bylsma on Crosby, Michalek, Lineup, & more

Bylsma on anticipation of Crosby’s Return: “This week we knew Sidney was continuing and progressing on his rehab, doing well, and we knew that we were getting close, and knew also that he was going to be seeing a doctor Sunday.
“”There was a slight anticipation in talking to Sid the past few days that possibly Monday would be the day. I knew he had the doctor {appointment} yesterday morning and met with them. I heard from Ray Shero at my kid’s game. I anticipated a phone call at that time. That’s where I heard about it. I talked to Sidney shortly after that and confirmed that he was playing in the game.
“I was sitting in that crowd, my wife was there, some family was around, some Penguin’s fans were around and I always get the question if there is a predetermined date. My wife gave away the tickets for tonight’s game two days ago, so my family doesn’t have tickets for tonight’s game. I found out then and I figured like everybody else that our team was going to get word quicker than I could give it to them and it turns out that was the case.”
Bylsma on using Crosby tonight: “We’re playing a team that has struggled and not done well coming off a tough loss and we’re coming off a game where we haven’t played very well and our focus today is about getting to do what we need to do to win the game tonight. Our details and how we need to play and Sidney is a part of that. We’ve already addressed some of that situation and we’re going to do that going into the game tonight.
“He’s going to be playing next to Kunitz and Dupuis because that’s probably the most comfortable spot for him to be in. We’re going to start off getting right to where we need to as a team and that’s what is important about our game tonight and we will all be excited to see how the building is when he comes out, and anticipate some of the energy in the game.”
Bylsma on Michalek’s impact: What it does for our defense, is it really gives you a two strong matchup, top four defensemen. “Z” is a guy who is first over the boards on the penalty kill and excels in that area of the game for us and he’ll be that guy for us again tonight playing with Paul Martin.
“That’s where the two of them have played their best and that’s together. They’ve played a lot of games together and they’ve been a shutdown pair together. I think when you start the season you look at those guys being together and we are going to get that again tonight and we think that’s a really good {six} defensemen.

By the Numbers

12-0: The Penguins have won 12 straight games at home vs the Islanders.
48-19: Pittsburgh has outscored New York, 48-19 in winning 12 straight in the series in Pittsburgh. Five of those wins came with Crosby sidelined.
62 pts: Sidney Crosby has 62 pts in 33 career games vs Islanders.
1.87: Sidney Crosby’s career points per game average vs Islanders.
0.89: Jordan Staal is averaging 0.89 points per game this season with 16 points in 18 games played.
11: The number of points (4G-7A) Pascal Dupuis has in the Penguins 11 wins this season.
3: The number of points Pascal Dupuis has against the Islanders this season, first on the team.
5-6-1: The Penguins record against Eastern Conference opponents.
1-21: Pittsburgh on the power play in their last four games
0-4-2: The Islanders road record this season

Pre-Game Tidbits

— All eyes are obviously on Sidney Crosby tonight. Three things to watch for Crosby tonight is his timing, how his minutes progress throughout the game and when he takes that first hard hit. He’s a tough player to hit so it might not even come tonight. His hands and skating are already in top form.
— It will be interesting to see how the return of Crosby impact’s Jordan Staal’s offensive output moving forward. Staal is having a career year with 16 points in 18 games played, on pace for 71 points this season. Staal second on the team with 10 goals, has 7 goals and 10 points in his last 9 games.
Staal though will now bumped down to third line center and not centering Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, two players he’s shown strong chemistry with of late.
— 1-21 in their last four games, the Penguins power play looks to get a boost from the return of Crosby but it will be interesting to see how long it takes the unit of Crosby – Neal – Malkin, Sullivan – Letang to find chemistry. Removing Chris Kunitz might not be the best move. Kunitz has been excellent as a net-front presence and passing option in the low slot area.
— Pens head coach Dan Bylsma believes that the return of Zbynek Michalek will spark the play of Paul Martin who’s a minus-10 on the season. However, both players must improve their play as the two were not playing well together prior to Michalek’s injury.  Martin and Michalek were a combined minus-8 when Michalek was injured on October 22.
— 21 year old Anders Nilsson makes his first NHL start. If the Penguins can get to him early, it’s going to be a long night for New York.
Pens Lineup
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Sullivan – Malkin – Neal
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Asham – Park – Adams
DEFENSEMEN
Orpik – Letang
Martin – Michalek
Niskanen – Engelland
Marc Andre Fleury in goal
Expected Scratches: Joe Vitale, Steve MacIntyre, Alex Picard
*Dustin Jeffrey has been placed on IR*

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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