PENGUINS – ISLANDERS PRE GAME BUZZ
The New York Islanders are 10-2-1 in their last 13 games, including 6-1 in their last seven games after an impressive seven game road trip capped off by a thrilling 6-4 win over the Rangers on Sunday.
This sets up as a really interesting game and not just because the two teams are separated by three points (Islanders have two games in hand).
In the only meeting this season, Pittsburgh routed New York by climbing out to a 5-0 lead, en route to a 5-2 win. It was a stretch in the season for Pittsburgh that started with Sidney Crosby going on a tear in the month of January. He was dominant in the win vs New York with two goals.
What was interesting with that performance from the Penguins is last season the Penguins were over-matched by the Islanders overall speed and skill in their lineup in possessing a four line deep team. The Islanders possession game was significantly superior.
With a new system and more speed in the lineup, the January 2nd meeting saw Pittsburgh really dictate the game with their speed, putting up 43 shots, which was a major contrast from matchups last season. One trend, though, that continued in the Islanders favor was shot-attempt differential, a +20 edge 5 v 5 in the only meeting two months ago, 68-48.
The win for Pittsburgh was also special teams dominated by Pittsburgh in getting two power play goals from Crosby and a shorthanded marker from Matt Cullen.
One key player missing from the Islanders lineup in that meeting was Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk is now back in the lineup.
It would be quite a surprise to see the Penguins put on a similar type of performance but are they now built better to matchup with the Isles?
With five weeks to go into the regular season and the NHL playoffs all about matchups, the Penguins and Islanders starting tonight meet three times in a 25 day span, including twice in a week. These three meetings will give a good barometer if the Penguins truly matchup better with the Islanders than they did last season.
In Pittsburgh, the talk is often of the Rangers being the worst possible matchup for the Penguins, while the talk in Rangers circles is the Islanders being an awful matchup for the Rangers.
For a potential Islanders – Penguins first round series that could still happen in a 2-3 scenario, it’s fair to say it’s unknown how these two clubs matchup due to the Penguins change of style and personnel in some areas compared to last season. That’s why these next couple games between the two are very intriguing.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"