GAME DAY BUZZ
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (6-3-0, 12 PTS) @ NEW YORK ISLANDERS (4-3-1, 9 pts)
If the Penguins have a let down game tonight after last Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders, it’s going to show that this team hasn’t turned the corner just. The Penguins are looking to extend their winning streak to four games and head coach Dan Bylsma has tried to pound it into his players heads that this is an important game.
“The Islanders are maybe not a team that people focus on but they have talented players and they’ve been working hard and playing well,” Bylsma said. “If we needed to learn that lesson, we definitely could have learned it with last game. We know what happened last time they played us, and it wasn’t a good game and they mopped us up. We’ll be going into their building.”
The Penguins are off to a 5-1 start on the road and have outscored their opponents 21-12 in the six road games.
ADJUSTMENTS: *It’s been no secret the Penguins have struggled against teams who can skate with them and turn the Penguins mistakes into goals. Tonight’s matchup is intriguing to see if there’s any adjustments from the Penguins coaching staff. The Islanders have won three straight vs Pittsburgh dating back to last season, outscoring Pittsburgh 14 to 7 during that span. At even strength the Penguins have been outscored 9-5 in their last three games vs Islanders.
Will the Penguins turn the tables on New York at even strength tonight? The Islanders have not been in effective at even strength on the season with a minus-6 rating. It’s prompted line changes to the top-2 lines with Brad Boyes moving up to the top line with Matt Moulson and John Tavares, bumping down Kyle Okposo to the second line with Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen tonight. Josh Bailey who was the Islanders top point getter vs Pittsburgh last season, is not yet ready to return to the lineup and won’t play tonight. The Islanders 4-3-1 start has been built off strong special teams where they are 29% on the power play and 93% on the penalty kill.
The Islanders are giving up 3.25 goals per game and 32 shots per game.
BOYCHUK TO SEE ACTION FOR 3RD STRAIGH GAME: Zach Boychuk will get a third straight game along side Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Boychuk failed to finish some plays against the Capitals but when he was on the ice, the Penguins were creating scoring chances. I have the Boychuk – Malkin – Neal line credited with 5 scoring chances (Our scoring chance criteria is based on chances inside the top of the circles (35 ft and in) vs Capitals and a makeshift line of Boychuk, Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke created one scoring chance and a goal vs the Capitals. He’s making a good early impression on the coaching staff.
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov gets the start for Islanders who is 10-2-0 with a 1.70 GAA and two shutouts against Pittsburgh. Nabokov has been excellent against the Penguins, allowing two or fewer goals in nine straight matchups.
Marc Andre Fleury (3-2-0, .253 GAA, .897 sv%) will start for Pittsburgh. Fleury is 0-3 in his last three starts vs Islanders with a .776 save percentage.
The Penguins had an optional skate in New York and it’s not clear yet if there will be any lineup changes up front or on the blueline.
There was also some talk yesterday of the coaching staff planning to get Eric Tangradi back in the lineup in one of the next two games but I doubt Tangradi or Jeffrey get in the lineup tonight. Chris Kunitz who did not practice yesterday, will play.