New York Islanders (15-11-3, 33 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (14-11-5, 33 pts)
If the playoffs began today, the Penguins would be one of five teams with 33 pts. Two of those five would make the playoffs. That's quite a turnaround from last week when the Pens were sinking to the bottom of the conference, though the Lightning have 30 points and are the third worst, so the margin of error is small.
The Pens have won three straight games. Tonight they try to make it four in a row. They need to keep winning to stay in the playoff hunt.
The Islanders are somewhat similar to the Penguins in that they're fairly inconsistent. They've had a few hot streaks, but have been unable to avoid losing multiple games in a row a few different times this season. They've allowed the second lowest amount of goals in the Eastern Conference, but this is deceiving. The Isles have allowed at least three goals in seven straight games. The key to beating them lately is to keep their offense in check. The Pens were able to do that a few weeks back when Marc-Andre Fleury stood on his head and got the win. He'll need to do something similar tonight.
The Pens need to keep the hot streak rolling and earn points. The power play has been especially hot lately, while the Isles PK has been especially weak lately. This needs to be exploited tonight.
I'm also hoping that someone manages to get Satan to actually fight instead of lining up a cheap hit, getting into a confrontation and then holding on for dear life instead of fighting.
Islanders blog - there really isn't a decent Islanders blog that I can find in my quick look around. It's really kind of sad. I guess the closest I can find is the blog on the official site, written by the players and coach. It really doesn't say anything. If anyone knows of a good Islanders blog, I'll put it in my preview when the Pens play the Isles again.
I'm looking for a strong effort tonight from the Pens and a home victory. These teams match up well in that they both are good at even strength, and erratic on the power play. Whichever team executes better on special teams is likely to win the game. I think it'll be the Pens.
Let's Go Pens!