The NHL Playoffs kicks off this Wednesday. In this match up, we have two Metro division rivals squaring off against each other. The Islanders boast a record of 48-27-7 (103 Points) and finished 2nd in the division. While the Penguins have a record of 44-26-12 (100 Points) finishing 3rd in the division.
The Penguins and the Islanders split the season series against each other 2 games apiece. In the first meeting on October 30th, the Islanders defeated the Penguins 6-3, then followed that up with a 3-2 victory in the shootout, just two days later. It wouldn’t be until December before the two teams would square off again, and it was the Penguins that were victorious, beating the Islanders 6-2 on December 6th. 4 days later, the two teams would square off for the final time in the regular season, and it was the Penguins who came out on top, a 2-1 shootout victory for them.
The last time the Penguins and the Islanders played against each other in the playoffs, it was 6 years ago, way back in 2013. It was the Penguins who won the series, 4 – 2. It should be of note, that the game winning overtime goal in that series was provided by current Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.
Keys to Victory for the Islanders
- Use the home ice to their advantage. In round 1, the Islanders will be playing at Nassau Coliseum. Historically, the Islanders do well in this barn, and should take full advantage of the amped up crowd.
- Shot blocking. One of the main reasons for the Islanders resurgence this season is their commitment to defense. They need to muck up the lanes and get in front of the puck.
- Goaltending. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the William Jennings trophy for least goals allowed. They are both playing really well and will need to step up big time for the Isles going forward.
Players to Watch
Matthew Barzal (F)
Robin Lehner (G)
Devon Toews (D)
Keys to Victory for the Penguins
- Experience. The Penguins have made it to the playoffs for the last 13 consecutive seasons. Really impressive, because in those 13 years, they have won 3 Stanley Cups during that time.
- Power plays. The Penguins ranked 7th in the NHL in power play percentage during the regular season. If the power play can continue with this trend, there are going to be some big opportunities for the star players to score some big goals.
- Penalty Kill. As well as their power play has been, their penalty kill is also good. The Penguins are tied for the 3rd best penalty kill in the league. Special teams always is a difference maker in the playoffs.
Players to Watch
Sidney Crosby (F)
Matt Murray (G)
Evgeny Malkin (F)
Here is what the schedule of the series looks like: