PITTSBURGH PENGUINS @ NEW YORK ISLANDERS
BARCLAY’S CENTER. BROOKLYN. NY
7:00 PM EST. ATTSN
There aren’t many ways to go about this gameday in a positive manner. I laid out the implications of this set of back-to-backs yesterday in the gameday in regards to the standings, and half of the plan worked. The Islanders dropped their game to Philly and the Penguins decided winning two games in a row is just too hard. So now both teams meet in Brooklyn a day after the area got hit with some made up buzzword storm with the winner getting closer to the Wild Card spot, but not in. As fellow pensblog contributor Adrian (@penguinsmarch) pointed out on Twitter last night the Pens are now 20-19-3 after 42 games, they were 20-18-4 after 42 games in 2008-09, so all hope is not lost. Jim Rutherford has never not gone all in during his tenure here and you have to think that going into this game Rutherford will be on the jitterbug and that there is a good chance a trade happens this weekend.
Who could be traded? Plain and simple, Crosby and Malkin are safe, Letang is as safe as you can get but JR will hear offers, everyone else better show how they can help this team moving forward. I’m not going to waste your time with my trade predictions because if JR has shown us anything it is that we can’t predict these things anyways.
These are the lines the Penguins rolled with for the most part yesterday, and for the most part they weren’t horrible in their first game together. I’m hoping Sullivan sticks with the third and fourth lines for at least one more game, because I can see some good potential with that group. The fourth line looked really good in the opening frame last night as well. One thing that didn’t work was replacing Dumoulin with Hunwick, because Hunwick was awful handling top pairing minutes. The Islanders have a group of forwards that can turn a game a lot like Carolina’s group did, every line is fast and comes right down the ice. If the Penguins forwards defensive game isn’t up to par this game could once again result in a lot of odd man rushes and a long night for Tristan Jarry.
WHO TO WATCH
FOR PITTSBURGH: Your Favorite Player
Some of the Penguins that play tonight will not be playing for the Penguins by next month. Some of them may be your favorite player. Conor Sheary, dearly loved by fans, could be gone. Daniel Sprong, the next one, could be gone. Bryan Rust, Olli Maatta, Carl Hagelin, none of them are safe because no GM is going to give the Penguins an easy trade. This team has won two championships in a row, that comes with a certain amount of jealousy from other GMs, a jealously that will make them think twice before trading Rob Scuderi for Trevor Daley. It’s a fantasy world you’re living in if you think Ian Cole brings back a top grade third line center straight up. If this team wants to attempt a true run this year, it will take a shakeup, and there’s a high chance that every single one of us will say “what a horrible trade” as soon as it is tweeted, like always.
FOR NEW YORK: ANDERS LEE
Lee has played 41 games for the Islanders and has an impressive 24 goals and 15 assists so far while playing on the Islanders top line with Tavares. Lee is a sneaky player and always seems to find a way to hide his 6’3″ 231 pound body near the net without a defender around. It is truly an art, and you will definitely see Lee with the puck on his stick within 10 feet of the goal tonight.
It doesn’t get any more cut and dry than this. The Penguins shit the bed last night in a game that would’ve been nice to win, and now have to respond tonight after traveling to New York this morning. A loss puts the Penguins further out of the playoff picture. A win keeps them floating. Until the team can start stringing together regulation wins against teams not named Buffalo, Arizona and Philadelphia, it is tough to expect things to change. The Penguins character on the ice will tell us a lot about where they are tonight, how they respond and start this game will tell you everything you need to know about their overall morale and mentality.