A Metropolitan Division showdown tonight in Long Island between the Penguins and Islanders. The Islanders took the first two games in a home and home series back in November, while Penguins won 3-1 in a October matchup. The Islanders one of the NHL’s deepest teams outfront, gave the Penguins similar problems as in the past with their combination of speed and skill.
This Islanders team, though, is different in all three phases with improved goaltending and personnel on the backend.
New York’s ability to control the play for long stretches during those first two games in November were concerning from the Penguins end.
The Penguins combined CF% 5 v 5 in the first two meetings vs Islanders was 42.9 with 90 shot attempts for and 120 against.
Mike Johnston values himself as a teacher of the game and someone who is a strong believer in adjustments. Johnston has stated there’s some adjustments he noticed that can help the Penguins in their next matchup with New York and it will be interesting if there’s a new wrinkle the Penguins throw at New York tonight from a system standpoint.
From a lineup standpoint, there will be changes.
Scott Harrington recalled this morning, will play in place of Robert Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo has been exposed in a top-2 pairing role of late and the coaches remain committed to keeping Rob Scuderi and Simon Despres together as the third pair.
With Olli Maatta out for the season, there’s a spot in the top-6 up for grabs from Bortuzzo to the young guys. Bringing in a veteran defenseman is not being ruled out but the Penguins will let things play out for the next month.
Harrington will move into a top-2 pairing role tonight with Christian Ehrhoff.
5 v 5 Harrington has been on the ice for 8 goals against and 1 goals for.
Harrington during his previous stints with the club, has only played 3:02 with Ehrhoff at even strength.
Upfront, Mark Arcobello will make his Penguins debut and center Zach Sill and Craig Adams. The beneficiary is Marcel Goc getting away from those two.
Goc whose versatility was sought last deadline by the previous regime, is winger capable and will get a look tonight at left wing on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – David Perron
Nick Spaling – Evgeni Malkin – Beau Bennett
Marcel Goc – Brandon Sutter – Steve Downie
Zach Sill – Mark Arcobello – Craig Adams
Paul Martin – Kris Letang
Christian Ehrhoff – Scott Harrington
Rob Scuderi – Simon Despres
Marc Andre Fleury
Scratches: Robert Bortuzzo, Andrew Ebbett