Islanders: 48-27-7, 103 points, second in Metropolitan
The New York Islanders will have home-ice advantage against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum. This year the Islanders have been the most improved team. The addition of Stanley Cup winning head coach Barry Trotz helped the Islanders become Eastern Conference contenders. A lot of people expected the Islanders to miss the playoffs for a third straight season after the departure of John Tavares.
This year Trotz could use two goalies, Robin Lehner, and Thomas Greiss. Both of them had been outstanding this season combining over 20 wins, 2.30 GAA, and 11 shutouts total. Greiss was the only goalie out for the morning skate which means we expect Lehner to start tonight.
The Islanders will play their first-round matchup at Nassau Coliseum. If they get through the first round, they will play the rest of their home games at Barclay Center in Brooklyn. In order for the Islanders to be successful, they will have to score goals and stay physical. The fourth line (Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck) can make a big impact with their strong physical game and forecheck.
Penguins: 44-26-12, 100 points, third in Metropolitan
The Penguins made the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season (NHL active record). Pittsburgh is much more experienced in the playoffs than the Islanders. They won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 under coach Mike Sullivan. Injuries took a toll on the Penguins as ten players missed at least ten games. Penguins will depend on Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel to lead them on offense. Jake Guentzel is also another key for the Penguins as he had a career-high 40 goal season.
Kris Letang became an All-Star this season but struggled with upper-body injuries. He is expected to play in the playoffs but also has to avoid being injured. Goaltender Matt Murray will be in net tonight. The Penguins need to avoid injuries against a physical Islanders team. This first round matchup will be a huge test for the Penguins as they look to win their third Stanley Cup in four years.
Defenseman Brian Dumoulin and forward Zach Aston-Reese took part in practice today. Dumoulin missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Aston-Reese had missed several games this season with a lower-body injury. Both players are game-time decisions according to head coach Mike Sullivan
#Pens coach Sullivan said Dumoulin and Aston-Reese will be game-time decisions for Game 1. “Their status hasn’t changed. They’re making progress.” -MC
— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) April 9, 2019
Islanders projected lineup
Anders Lee-Mat Barzal-Jordan Eberle
Josh Bailey-Brock Nelson-Tom Kuhnhackl
Anthony Beauvillier-Valtteri Filppula-Leo Komarov
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews-Scott Mayfield
Penguins projected lineup
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Jared McCann-Evgeni Malkin-Patric Hornqvist
Dominik Simon-Nick Bjugstad-Phil Kessel
Teddy Blueger-Matt Cullen-Garrett Wilson
Olli Maatta-Kris Letang
Jack Johnson-Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson-Erik Gudbranson
“From Our Haus to Yours”