Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 29: New York Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1) @ New York Islanders (8-15-4)
ROOT, MSG-Plus, RDS – 7:00 pm/et 
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – Uniondale, NY

The Islanders have lost six games in-a-row and they haven't won since November 16th. They're 2-7-1 in their last ten. That pretty much guarantees that they'll be a tough opponent for the Pens tonight, right?


Leading Scorers:

Penguins: Sidney Crosby (13G, 23A: 36P)
Islanders: John Tavares (11G, 19A: 30P)

Probable Starting Goaltenders:

Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (14-7-1, 2.06 GAA, .918 Sv% )
Islanders: Anders Nilsson (0-0-1, 2.47 GAA, .907 Sv%)

Official Previews from Team Websites: [Penguins] [Islanders]

Last Games:

Penguins: Defeated Florida Panthers 5-1.
Islanders: Lost to Washington Capitals 3-2 [OT].

Opposition Blog: [Lighthouse Hockey]
What They're Saying: "Lines, records, very bad things loom"

Despite appearances, current form, and the general fatalist nature of their fanbase, the New York Islanders are not dead, not yet. Twenty-seven games does not an 82-game season make, and eight points (behind Metro third-place New York) is not insurmountable at this stage of the season.

However, their chances are stretched about as thin as could possibly be considered doable, there happens to be five teams to leap to reach third place (Metro), and the upcoming schedule looks as close as you can get to fatal.

Pittsburgh at home tonight, then the much-noted brutal Western swing through St. Louis, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix. Those opponents have a combined +113 goal differential through the first ~27 games of the season. The Isles are minus-21.

Who else here misses the lockout intraconference schedule?

What Happened Last Time: November 22, 2013 – Pens won 4-3 [Our Recap]

The Pens got out of this game with a win, which is all that matters. Every Zatkoff start has the chance of turning into a Bruce Willis movie, and this one did. But the Pens escaped.

Couple of main things:

– It’s really hard to believe the Isles are in the last place in the Metro Division. They need a goaltender in the worst way. Most of the other pieces are in place. They can play with anyone, but when your goalie can't stop basic NHL shots, yikes.

– Malkin and Crosby are both starting to lock in. Every time the two were on the ice last night, it was edge-of-your-seat stuff.

Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin only trails Crosby by one point for the NHL lead right now. This "battle" will be fun to watch.

Islanders Player(s) to Watch: Thomas Vanek. Because isn't it still kind of weird that he's an Islander?

Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today's Game: 

Pittsburgh Penguins lines from Daily Faceoff:

Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen- Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Andrew Ebbett – Brandon Sutter – Chris Conner
Zach Sill – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Deryk Engelland – Brooks Orpik
Olli Maatta – Kris Letang
Simon Despres – Matt Niskanen
Marc-Andre Fleury

New York Islanders lines from Daily Faceoff:

Thomas Vanek – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner – Frans Nielsen – Josh Bailey
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – Peter Regin – Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Calvin de Haan – Thomas Hickey
Aaron Ness – Matt Carkner
Anders Nilsson