Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders
Pittsburgh - 2-5-5 - 9 pts - Last in Atlantic
New York - 6-6-0 - 12 pts - 4th in Atlantic
Tonight the Pens play the team directly above them in the standings. A win in regulation would be like a double bonus, since not only would the Pens get two points, but the Islanders would not get any points out of the game. Of course, it won't be easy. The Islanders are another team that is better at home (4-2). Most teams are. Would have been nice for the Pens to win a few of their own home games, eh? But enough crying over that milk that spilled all over the ice.
The Islanders have been an average team so far this year. They've not been more than one game above or below .500 (how's that for consistent mediocraty?) They've also not won any game by more than two goals, and they only did that once (against the Capitals). Their other five wins are by one goal, two of them in OT.
Their power play, which had been hot, has cooled the last few games, going 1-19 in the last three games. The PK isn't bad, but they'll give up some goals. Most of their offense is funnelled through a few players - Yashin, Blake and Satan (that's right - the Islanders have the powers of darkness at their disposal). Zhitnik, their top defensive scorer, also gets involved, especially on the power play - 9 of his 12 points have come on the PP.
Basically, this is a team the Pens should beat if they want to be a playoff team. They are pretty average any way you slice it, and the Pens have talent that is anything but average. If they can play like they did on Tuesday at New Jersey, I think they'll come out on top.
In fact, there will be another similarity, most likely, to Tuesday's game. The last few Islanders home games have been, um.. "sparsely" attended. Weeknight games against Boston and Atlanta have drawn just over 10,000. They did come out to see the Rangers (or, rather, the Ranger's fans made the trip to Long Island), so maybe they'll come out to see the Pens too. Especially since Sidney Crosby has done this. I can't bring myself to look at it, but my wife tells me, with a somewhat red face, that he's done the "beefcake" pose, whatever that means. As long as he puts the puck in the net, it's all good, eh? It would help if he scored some goals too :)