Pittsburgh (13-6-3) VS Brooklyn (7-10-4)
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
8:00 PM EST, NBCSN
The Penguins travel to hipsterville tonight fresh off their first multiple day break since September. These two met 12 days ago in this same building, a 3-2 OT victory for Pittsburgh, What G-Off said in our recap:
“Sure, the 3rd worst team in hockey forced overtime against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. But at the end of the day, you’re still just 2 points above Arizona.”
Other than this game the two also met in October resulting in a 4-2 Penguins win. The Islanders have been a bigger dumpster fire than usual this season, and honestly nobody understands how Capuano still has a job. You almost get the feeling that the Islanders are a few games away from making a coaching change, but since it is Garth Snow and the Islanders, that won’t happen. It is almost unfathomable to consider how this team has wasted so many years of John Tavares. The Islanders were up and coming, starting to make playoff pushes, including a fun series with the Pens a few years back, and then they managed to find a way to Islander things up after moving to Brooklyn. Luckily for them, nobody can see the game at Barclay’s Center. I can only imagine how many times Tavares has thought about stealing that stupid SUV and driving straight to Toronto, with a Will Work for Food sign for Babcock. It’s a shame really, because I really prefer it when Philly leads the division in suck.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Patric Hornqvist practiced yesterday and said he felt good, the dude has missed like 1 game since being acquired by the Pens before this recent concussion, so I am penciling him in for now. If Hornqvist is back, the question then becomes who do you scratch? I assume Scott Wilson is the lowest on the depth chart right now, as Jake the Snake has earned more time, but if it were me, Eric Fehr would be out this game. Name one thing Fehr has done since scoring the game winner in game 2 against Washington in the playoffs. Back-to-back situation again for the Pens, and I prefer starting the best goalie against division opponents when possible; since the Dallas Stars aren’t the offensive threat they were last season so far I think the team can trust Fleury to hopefully handle them. The Islanders have been riding Greiss lately, and he has been winning so expect them to throw Halak in net even though he has been as solid as air against the Pens recently.
Who to Watch:
For New York: John Tavares
Tavares has somehow managed to put up 6 goals and 11 assists in 21 games on this team, and more impressively he is even in the hated +/- stat line. More impressive still is he hasn’t intentionally tried to injure Andrew Ladd yet, jesus what a terrible signing. Ladd is currently on the 4th line, they could’ve resigned Okposo for 500 k more… this is why you suck.
For Pittsburgh: Kris Letang
The Penguins recently ended a stretch of 7 games in 11 days, with 4 of them being back-to-backs. By the final two games Letang was making multiple mental mistakes, mainly turnovers and blown coverages. Playing 25 minutes a night with only 4 off days will do that to you, especially when Brian Dumoulin decided he didn’t want to start the season on time. I expect to see a refreshed and flying Letang tonight. It will be interesting to watch how Dumoulin responds to being a healthy scratch last game as well.
These two went to overtime in their previous meeting, and while the Penguins are still searching for proper line combinations, you have to give them the edge in this game. The Islanders are grasping for anything right now, any type of identifying resemblance to a system or style that they can build off of, and the Penguins need to take advantage of a discombobulated team and shut them down early.
Be sure to check out the 8th episode of Pat and Leah have a hockey podcast here, as they go in to the Pens roster, the “Pittsburgh is Home” documentary, and some goalie talk.
Make sure you play #maattamegamillions on twitter with @penshockeyblog, the jackpot is over $60 for tonight’s game.