Eastern Conference Preview: Penguins VS Islanders

By Joe Kremel

Nabby Will Need To Stand Tall To Give The Islanders A Fighting Chance Agaisnt A Deep Penguins Team. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Gm1 Wed, May 1 – 7:30 pm ROOT SPORTS

Gm2 Fri, May 3 – 7:00 pm ROOT SPORTS

Gm3 Sun, May 5 – 12:00 pm NBC

Gm4 Tues, May 7 – 7:00 pm   ROOT SPORTS

The Summary: The Penguins are 36-12-0 with 72 points and the Islanders are 24-17-7 with 55 points. These two teams will be heading into the first round of the playoffs as the first and eighth seeds respectively.  The Penguins have been the team to beat in the Eastern conference, and they have led the league in scoring throughout the season. With big name stars like Malkin, Crosby, and Neal, it’s hard not to expect high scoring games.  Islanders have quietly put together a nice run this season despite all the Brooklyn drama that was surrounding the team.  John Tavares has led this team to where they are and is probably one of biggest names you never really get to hear much about.  This series should be a fast paced affair, and you can expect some great offensive play from both teams.

The Season: The Penguins won four of the five games against the Islanders, including a 6-1 rout and a 2-0 shutout.  Surprisingly, Crosby and Malkin didn’t score a single goal, but Crosby did rack up nine assists in those five games.  Kunitz ended up with eight points, while Neal and Dupuis put up six points each.  The Islanders’ Moulson led the team with four points, Boyes with three, and Tavares and Grabner each put up two points.  Both teams did a fairly good job of keeping the big names from scoring, but with the depth of the Penguins, the Islanders had to play a near flawless game.

The Reality: The Penguins have way too much star power for the islanders to handle.  Even with Crosby out, the Penguins have a lot of names that any team would want.  Their late additions of Iginla and Morrow have only padded their depth, and with Crosby trying to return as soon as possible, the Islanders will have their hands full.  One of the things the Islanders have going for them right now is Nabokov playing out of his mind.  Last year, Hawks fans saw what happened when you run into a hot goalie, and that can be extremely frustrating, even for the most talented of teams. Nabokov can’t win it himself; Tavares will have to lead the way offensively, and everyone will need to be playing defense if they want to pull out an upset.

The Prediction: 4-1 Penguins with Neal being a dominant force.  Again, the Pens just have so much fire power in their lineup that even if the Islanders can keep up in the first two periods of a game, the Pens will just wear them out in the third.  Also tack on that Fleury has had a decent second half of the season and has looked more like the Fleury of old which only makes things more difficult for the Islanders.

The Upset: If Nabokov gets scorching hot, and Tavares plays out of his mind, AND Fluery forgets how to goalie, AND the Pens are completely over confident…. Then I can see the Islanders winning this series. The Islanders will have to play a perfect team game for a win, and as much as I love an underdog, this is extremely unlikely.